India has a large population that needs electricity to run their homes. To properly serve this big population, the Indian legal system has set up several laws and the Indian electricity act. These laws especially come to the forefront when problems like scarcity of coal and other setbacks in the electricity sector arise.
For the common public, these rules and regulations are confusing. However, it is essential to know them so that in times of need, they can be used so that people can get their rights. All rules and regulations in place are there to safeguard the general public and to ensure there is an uninterrupted supply of power. Elaborated below is a summary of the electricity laws in India under the Indian constitution.
India’s Electricity Generation Statistics
India is a major country both in terms of power installed capacity and generation. As of 30th June 2022, India has a total of 4,03,760 MW capacity. When this figure is broken down, the private sector makes up 49.5% while the central and state sectors have 24.6% and 26%. Most of the power is still generated using coal, 2,04,080 MW to be exact. This is followed by lignite and gas at 6,620 and 24,826 MW each. Recently though, non-fossil fuel power generation has also increased in India.
On 30th June 2022, wind-generated power is 1,14,064 MW while solar generated 57,706 MW. In total non-fossil fuel and fossil fuel generate 1,67,694 MW and 2,36,065 MW each for Indian citizens. 1
For a power generation system this large, there have to be detailed laws and regulations in place. India’s constitution has several legislations in place to ensure that citizens get regular stable electricity connections at their homes.
Constitution and Electricity
Within the Indian constitution, the seventh schedule states on which the Parliament and the states can frame their own laws. These subjects are put together in three different lists. They are the Union List, State List and the Concurrent List. Per the name, the Union List and the State List are handled by their namesakes. The third list, the Concurrent List has matters that both state and the centre handle. Electricity and Indian electricity rule finds a spot on the Concurrent List.
Legislation for Electricity
The entire electricity sector in the country and related laws are covered in the Indian electricity act 2003. This is the backbone and the current active act that has replaced all older acts and laws. Here, the act covers general electricity consumption at homes but not topics like nuclear energy. The act has gone through several amendments over the years subject to parliament’s approval. To get a better understanding of this act, let us look at all of the older acts in India.
The Indian Electricity Act, 1910
The first regulation for electricity in India is the Indian Electricity Act, 1910. The act covers, the supply, generation and also distribution of electricity. Giving licences to supply energy and rules on which non-licence holders can also supply energy is covered by the act. It finishes up with rules regarding the construction, installation and also maintenance of electrical systems.
The Electricity Supply Act, 1948
As the production of electricity increased in India, the Electricity Supply Act of 1948 came into the act. Per the name, the act has laws on how to produce and supply electricity. Under this act, the Central Electricity Authority or CEA was set up as a central authority for any planning and development activities. The State Electricity Boards also were set up while the power for central and state boards was also defined on the side.
The Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act, 1998
The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission and the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions came into the picture after the Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act 1998. Through these measures, the aim was to justify tariffs, subsidy policies and more. Any and all matters regarding the regulation of electricity in India were introduced in this act.
The Electricity Act, 2003
Since 1998, there arose a need for newer and modern electricity laws in the country. There was also a need to upgrade the SEBs while also forming a map for future development. Under these conditions, the Electricity Act, of 2003 came into the picture. The act covered the following major changes.
- All SEBs were given the power to only look over the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.
- Power trading and de-licensing generation activities were made distinct from each other while also promoting the captive generation
- Besides the regulatory commissions set up at the state and central level in the previous act, this act also set up the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity. The tribunal’s main role would be to hear out appeals made against the SERCs and the CERC.
- Furthermore, the Central Electricity Authority was officially recognized as the advisory authority for the central Government. It will also extend the same responsibilities to the electricity regulatory commissions as well.
- Any and all renewable energy projects introduced in India would be promoted under the Electricity Act, 2003.
- Importantly, this act also put forward the requirement of providing non-discriminatory open access meaning allowing different power sector players access to the transmission lines.
Organization of the electricity sector
Another major point in the Electricity Act, of 2003 are separation of generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity. There is even a separate market solely for the trading of electricity. This sort of trading is done by companies with a trading license. This activity is also done at the power exchange.
There is a lot more to discuss under legislation for electricity in India. The amendments mentioned above cover a lot more changes and so do the duties and responsibilities of the regulatory commissions. To navigate the complicated scene of electricity legislation in India, there is a need to consult experts. Indian electricity safety rules are complicated but not hard to wrap our minds around with the help of the right professional.
Lex Solutions, Chandigarh is the answer to all matters of electricity. Our teams of professionals have years of experience in handling different cases of varying subjects. For more details, head to the Lex Solutions website for a quick consult and answers to all legal problems.