Upset by the common man’s lukewarm response to public hearings conducted by it on crucial power sector developments, the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission (KSERC) is donning a teacher’s role. In an attempt to educate consumers about power-related issues, the Commission is launching a tri-monthly newsletter titled ‘Consumer Grid.’ The idea was born out of a need to make consumers aware about their rights, privileges and redressal modes, Commission secretary K Chandrasekhara Babu said.
“There is a lack of proper awareness. For instance, we get calls at the Commission from people who have doubts regarding their electricity bills. The proper forum is the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) and after that the Electricity Ombudsman. But few people know this. The newsletter is intended to plug the gap,” he said. The public hearings convened ahead of fixing the new power tariff in July this year was characterised by tepid response from consumers. Though the Commission organised hearings in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode, only 242 people turned up in all.
Even at the regular hearings conducted by the Commission, only the industries are represented in strength, not the domestic consumers who account for 85 lakh of the 1.03 crore KSEB consumers. “Domestic consumers rarely study the issues. Few consumers are able to make head or tail of the statistic-heavy orders of the Commission,” said Ayyappan Nair, convener of Confederation of Consumer Vigilance Centre.