Power to choose: Electricity Bill likely to be passed soonhttps://indianexpress.com/article/business/business-others/power-to-choose-electricity-bill-likely-to-be-passed-soon/

Power to choose: Electricity Bill likely to be passed soon

If the new bill becomes a law, even the state discoms will not have any restrictions in entering distribution market in other states

The Electricity (Amendment) Bill that has provisions to give the consumers power to choose and change the supplier and ensure they get competitive charges for the electricity is expected to be passed in the monsoon session of Parliament, said a source in the government.

Although Congress and Left parties have given dissent notes on the Parliamentary Standing Committee report on the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2014, sources said the government is confident that the bill will get cleared by both houses.

“According to the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2015, which will be brought before Parliament in the monsoon session, consumers will have the power to choose and change the suppliers. We want to ensure competitive charges be available for the consumers as in the case of mobile users,” a source said adding that the amended clauses in the bill would bring in many companies in the field of distribution of electricity.

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“The NTPC is considering getting into distribution now. The foreign companies, if they set up an Indian company, can do distribution, which would ensure a competitive market. And the competition will improve quality also,” he said. If the new bill becomes a law, even the state Discoms will not have any restrictions in entering distribution market in other states.

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Giving thrust on green norms, the bill has clause that makes it mandatory for the entities to procure electricity from renewable energy sources. “The production should be enhanced from the current 32,000 MW to 1,75,000 MW in five years. There will be penalty clauses if the entities violate the green norms,” he said. The bill will also introduce the concept of Renewable Generation Obligation.

The Opposition parties, Congress and Left, have opposed to the bill saying that the bill would pave way for privatisation. According to them, the issue the sector is facing is not the lack of choice for the end user. “The bill should have provision that address the deficit in fuel supply to the power generating firms, power generation capacity and power transmission capacity,” said an MP, a member of the standing committee on energy. The parties also pointed out that the “power to choose supplier” which is given in the bill is available only to the users who consumes between 500KW to 1,000 KW which is a small fraction of the society constitutes only 0.01 per cent of the total consumers.

“The rest 99.9 percent will have to rely on state-run distributors,” the leader argued. However, Power Minister Piyush Goyal said he is open to discussions with the parties if anyone has any apprehensions about the bill.