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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

PowerMin may push Electricity Amendment Bill in Budget Session

The Power Ministry is likely to push in the upcoming Budget session the Electricity Amendment Bill which seeks separation of carriage and content in power distribution, reported PTI. The Bill also seeks to provide multiple supply licences in the markets to enable electricity consumers choose their service providers among many. "The Bill is ready with the ministry and can be sent for Cabinet approval soon. After the Cabinet nod, it can be introduced again in the Lok Sabha," a senior ministry official told PTI. The official said, "All issues related to the Bill have been resolved particularly those raised by the power sector workers. It provides that states will prepare a roadmap for segregation of power distribution network business and the electricity supply business in five years time." "The new proposed Bill, ready for Cabinet approval, does not provide any timeline for segregation of carriage and content in power business. This was explained to power sector employees and they appeared to be convinced on that. Thus it is likely to be tabled again in the Budget Session," he added. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 19, 2014. It was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy. The panel gave its report on May 7, 2015. The panel had asked for more clarity about the level and manner of implementing such segregation. It has also asked for broad and flexible guidelines to give the states due scope for aligning these guidelines as per their conditions. Power sector employees also expressed their concerns about the segregation of the content and carriage business in electricity distribution saying that it could lead to cherry picking by the private sector. The committee has also suggested that granting of licences by central and state regulators should not be left completely to the discretion of these commissions. It had asked to lay down some well defined parameters to reduce the discretionary and arbitrary powers of commissions. These parameters should also divide the consumers for supply on the basis of their status, cross-subsidies paid to them, and nature of technical and commercial losses, it has suggested. The Committee had observed that no details have been provided in the Electricity Amendment Bill 2014 on options available to consumers regarding options available to them, changing their service provider and cost involved in that. The ministry official said that the concerns raised by the committee and other stakeholders have been resolved in the redrafted Bill.