Rights by consumers to demand compensation from power suppliers in case of poor service and an online bill calculator to check monthly electricity bills are among a series of consumer-friendly measures introduced by the Public Utilities Commission of SriLanka (PUCSL).
These measures under the new Electricity Act No 20 of 2009 are aimed at ensuring conservation of power, correct bills, and a quick response to breakdowns or low voltage issues.
The PUCSL is preparing a set of standards to be followed by these companies and any violation of these rules can be reported to the Commission for action. The Commission is also preparing a Consumers’ Rights and Obligations charter which will be published next month, PUCSL Director-General, Prof. Ranjith Perera told The Sunday Times FT.
The Commission has already issued 6-month provisional licenses (valid till June 8) to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Lanka Electricity Company (LECO), private power generators, and around 81 mini hydro power plants for generation, transmission, distribution, and supply of electricity. These institutions are required to obtain permanent licences after that.
The main objective of the new Act is to provide for the regulation of the generation, transmission, distribution, supply and use of electricity in Sri Lanka.
Prof. Perera noted that other main functions of the PUCSL are to protect the interests of the consumers, promoting safety and service quality, ensure efficiency of price-controlled power suppliers and entertaining consumer complaints, among other matters.
The facility to check ‘your’ bill is available on the PUCSL website www.pucsl.gov.lk.
Prof. Perera noted that a project to provide electricity to 60,000 poorest of the poor households in areas accessible for electricity is underway with ADB assistance. "The government is to get US$250 million from the ADB with 15%-20% being a grant and the rest as a soft loan," he said.
He said under the Act the CEB must submit electricity distribution expansion plans indicating the geographical areas in which it proposes, during a period of 15 years, to obtain licenses. During that period, the CEB is legally required to stick to these plans and provide electricity accordingly. “People will exactly know when their villages will receive electricity and above all, it is ensured through legislation,” he said.