It is said when Bhagavad Gita is read as a kid, you get wonderful ideas to play. When you read it as a middle-aged man, you get lessons in running your household and finally, when you read it as an old man, you understand the meaning of life and after life!
Whether Indian laws are like Gita, meaning different things to different people or not, Electricity Act and Rules were certainly interpreted in multiple ways by every Regulatory body as well as by every stake holder in the business of electricity! Well, that includes everyone in India.
And one of the most misused and misinterpreted rules pertain to the group captive system, something that was introduced by the Act, explained by the Rules, interpreted by the regulatory bodies and implemented according to their own agenda, by the Discoms. Of course, Discoms are not the only ones to be blamed. It is the connected governments of the State that encourages such varied interpretation without any holds.
Aptel’s current interpretation of the rules pertaining to the Group Captive system, is certainly a welcome decision. In some areas it falls short, yes of course. While in few others, they have played neutral as if to pacify the other parties in the case and the remaining, they have quietly accepted the decision of the State Regulatory body.
Now let us get down to the brass tacks and zoom down into the order to those points of interest. Our interests could be substantially different from the issues that the Aptel has listed out.
Interest number 1: TANGEDCO will do the verification of the group captive status of the generators who have applied for it.
Aptel has just accepted the recommendation of TNERC here. Though they list the comments in the plaint, those points seem to have left no mark in the conclusion. Aptel does not answer the question that TANGEDCO is ALSO a GENERATING COMPANY. And that TANGEDCO is a competitor to other generating companies as well. How can one competitor evaluate or verify his competition for their validity to exist?
The logic given by Aptel to allow TANGEDCO to do this job is certainly very weak and meek. They need to cudgel their brains and come out with an alternate argument to convince people.
Interest number 2: Processing of the GCP applications will go by Grid Regulations and it will be handled by SLDC!
Quite an interesting and good interpretation of TNERC regulations in this regard. But unfortunately, though the grid regulations talk of SLDC as the nodal agency for receiving and processing open access applications, till today all applications including third party, are NOT received at the SLDC office and they just do not have a process in place for the purpose.
The reason being: TANGEDCO generally views SLDC and TANTRANSCO as a part of TANGEDCO. Though theoretically, on the paper, all of these are independent entities, the people who are working in one, are comfortably transferred to the other on need basis. Should I also include TNERC in this list of ‘considered as part of the company’?
With all these bodies working in unison, it is no surprise that the work of one is passed on to the other without any official order. While TNERC has written in its regulations that these Open Access applications should be handled by SLDC / Nodal agency, nobody questioned it when TANGEDCO started handling it.
Then, Aptel is not somebody. Why have they not questioned the fact that TANGEDCO has been handling and doing SLDC’s jobs all these days and why did they do it? Is it not against the law / regulations and what punishment do you give to them?
Passing over, will SLDC come out with their own process for handling these applications until a stay order or an order modifying the Aptel’s order is obtained?
Interest number 3: Timelines in RA 7. Nobody seems to have bothered about the timelines in RA 7 order of TNERC.
One week before the beginning of June, I filed an application for changing one of the consumers in our third-party consumer list. We needed to line it up before 1stJune.
The application was filed with NCES since it was solar, and it took them exactly 21 days to get a third party consumer added to the list of third party consumers! The worst joke is, it took exactly 1 hour to make the payment for OA charges by RTGS to the DisCom account processed through a bank, RBI, etc., etc., To produce a payment confirmation receipt, TANGEDCO took three days thereafter! To say they have received the payment, they needed three days.
RA 7 has interesting timelines specified such as 15 days for less than 10 consumers and so on. But all these timelines have least significance. We know how many timelines we have in the supply and distribution codes as part of the citizen charter. How many of them TANGEDCO obeys? Literally, none!
Well, they not only have scant respect for Timelines, they also do not obey direct TNERC orders! So much so, that the TNERC in one of their sittings lost its patience and pulled them up. It said to CE/NCES, if you do not obey our orders we will have no other option but to invoke Section 142 and give you a punishment for not obeying our orders.
But no punishment of course!
Well, that is exactly what I am trying to say about timelines. Unless there is a clear punishment for violation of timelines, nobody, just nobody in TANGEDCO, is going to obey the timelines mentioned in RA 7!
Of course, expecting Aptel or any other forum to address our concerns suo-motu is not right. Leaving out our interests, let us be happy that Aptel did address very many of our major concerns and put those points in proper light.
We will fail in our duty if we do not commend and pray that they should maintain such high standards in spelling out the interpretation of law!
Thank you, Aptel!