The Ministry of Power on Wednesday released the Draft Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020, where it lays out guidelines for for smart meters and for “prosumers” who sell electricity back to the grid. Consumers with smart meters installed “may” get real-time stats on their electricity use, and these meters can be read remotely instead of the electricity distributor being required to send a representative to inspect the meter, the draft rules say.

While this law recognises smart meters, customers and distribution companies are allowed to install regular meters as well. The rules say that customers will have to pay for the smart meter (or a regular one) either by buying it themselves or paying the distribution company a fee to do so on their behalf. Under the draft rules, regular meters are required to be checked at least once a month. The distributor is required to put a list of approved equipment up on its website. If the meter is stolen or defective, the distributor will be required to reimburse damages in subsequent bills if these problems are not due to the consumer.

For sale of electricity back to the grid, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission will be required to lay down regulations on rooftop solar power systems (which are practically the only way to generate power domestically), and what their capacity will be capped to. Customers would be allowed to self-install or hire a service provider to install a renewable energy generation system on their premises. On its website, the power distributor will be required to display the complete procedure and requirements for such consumers to start selling the electricity they generate. The rules indicate that the entire process should not take more than thirty days.

Aside from these provisions, the draft also says that unplanned power outages should be immediately communicated to customers through SMS or any other digital means, along with an ETA for restoration of power.

Comments on the draft can be sent until September 30.