ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Electricity Regulatory Commissions

The setting up of the electricity regulatory commissions (ERCs) represents a culture change which will call for reorientation of the working of the state governments and the state electricity boards as also consumer groups. But for this new chapter in economic management in the country to be successful, it will require, more than anything else, education and empowerment of consumers. The media will have to play a major role in this endeavour. Without such all-round effort the ERCs will be yet another empty gesture.

A new chapter has been opened in economic management of the country by the setting up of regulatory commissions for the telecommunications, insurance and electricity sectors. Understandably, of all the regulatory commissions set up so far, the electricity regulatory commissions (ERCs) have attracted the greatest public attention. There are a great many expectations from these commissions. The ERCs are expected to deal with issues pertaining to investments in the power sector and the pricing of electricity in an apolitical, rational, open and transparent manner. In doing so, they are expected to take into account the reasonable interests of all parties, namely, producers, distributors and the consumers. But the most important responsibility of ERCs is to empower the consumer.

ERCs have started functioning in a few states and at the centre. Some points need to be noted in this connection. In most cases, the ERCs have not been delegated all the powers and functions envisaged in the central Act on the subject and their role has been largely confined to setting tariffs. This is not surprising against the background of the experience of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) where the TRAI itself had to file a writ petition in the Delhi High Court against the central government seeking clarifications on its powers.

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