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Five stitches in time: Regulatory and policy actions to ensure effective electricity service

Author(s): Manabika Mandal, Sreekumar Nhalur, Aruja Pandey, Ann Josey Publication Date: May, 2019

Once electricity connections are given, to improve quality of life and promote economic activities, it is essential to ensure sufficient and affordable electricity supply, delivered with good quality, and supported by good service. Improving quality of service requires capital investment, but more than that, significant progress is possible through improved government attention and sustained efforts by the Distribution Companies and State Electricity Regulatory Commissions.  This report presents the challenges in implementing the existing regulatory provisions to ensure quality of service. It suggests five urgent actions to improve it for all consumers, especially rural and small consumers.

Existing regulations on quality of service can be put to better use by enforcing the standards, monitoring compliance, improving reporting, creating consumer awareness and simplifying grievance redressal mechanisms. Regulatory Commissions can take stricter measures to implement their directives, hold separate public hearings on quality of service, and link quality of service to revenue recovery. There should be periodic improvement of the performance standards, considering the changes in the sector and technology. Government of India has played a significant role in the connection drive, and now should take up initiatives towards improving quality of service.

If urgent steps are not taken now, there is a danger of consumers losing faith in Distribution Companies, and worsening of quality of service—a situation which may not be easy to recover from. But once a reasonable quality of service is achieved, pressure from consumers will ensure that Distribution Companies are accountable for sustaining and further improving it.

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