The problem of verbose policy documents – on National Electricity Policy

News: Recently, the government had indicated its intention to amend the EA 2003 and also the tariff policy.

Policy documents should be crisp and should be able to convey the direction we intend on taking. However, some of our policy documents are not in line with the above-said parameters. For instance, the documents of National Electricity Policy (NEP) and the Electricity Act 2003/ Tariff policy.

Both these documents run into pages and, on several occasions, speak of issues that strictly do not lie within their respective domains. Thus, depriving themselves of clarity and sharpness.

This is the appropriate time to revise various sections of the EA 2003 for having an integrated electricity policy that will have tariff as one of its constituents.

What are the issues pointed out by the author with respect to the EA 2003 Policy document?

First, there are unnecessary warnings and provisions related to competitive procurement of power by distribution companies. This distorts the policy statement and dilutes the basic intent of the EA 2003 competition.

Second, the policy makes the entire process very cumbersome, and it makes implementation difficult. Further, it is prone to litigation. For instance, the problematic provisions for the determination of hydro tariffs.

Thirdly, many sections in the act actually do not add any substance but aim at only educating the consumer. Though educating the consumer is important, but a different forum should be used for this purpose.

Fourthly, portions of the document speak of issues that have nothing to do with tariffs but relate to standards of performance, such as quality, continuity, and reliability of power supply.

What are the issues pointed out by the author with respect to the NEP Policy document?

The issue is, should the NTP and NEP continue as two separate policies? The answer is no because there is inter-mingling of objectives in both policy statements.

For instance, both policies speak of providing power at reasonable rates, ensuring the commercial viability of the sector, and protecting consumer interests.

Thus, it would be appropriate to subsume the TP into the NEP since tariff is one of the several issues which is a matter of electricity policy.

Source: This post is based on the article “The problem of verbose policy documents” published in Indian Express on 28th Dec 2021.

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