What is kWh or Unit of electricity?

The Kilowatt-Hour (kWh) also known as ‘Unit’ is a measure of electricity.  If 1 kW i.e. 1000 W of power is consumed for 1 hour then the energy consumed is said to be 1kWh. Our consumption of electricity is usually denoted in ‘Units’. Our electricity bill reflects the units of electricity consumed.

Example: A house having two lights of 40 W each and two fans of 80 W each running for 8 hours daily. The monthly consumption of electricity in terms of units or kWh is calculated as, 

[(2 ×40W) + (2 ×80W)] × 8 hours × 30 days = 57600 W/ 1000 ^ = 57.6 kWh/ month

^ Conversion from Watt to kilowatt

What is meant by generation, transmission and distribution of electricity?

Electricity from a power plant flows through transmission lines and distribution lines to facilitate supply of electricity to our houses. 

Electricity generated from conventional sources like coal, gas, hydro and nuclear & renewable sources like wind, solar, biomass and co-generation (at 11 – 25 kV) is transmitted to the substations of 33 kV or sometimes 66 kV through transmission lines and transformers. 

From the 33 kV substations the electricity is stepped down to 11 kV by a step-down transformer. This reaches the distribution substations which supplies electricity to the consumers. The distribution networks operate at a voltage and frequency depending on the distance and load to be served – residential, commercial and industrial consumers. The main components of a distribution system are High Tension (HT) and Low Tension (LT) power lines, substations, transformers and circuit breakers . 

How much fuel is required to produce one unit of electricity?

On an average, Indian Power Plants using India’s coal supply consume about 0.7 kg of coal to generate a kilowatt-hour of electricity and it is high compared to countries like US and Australia.  This is because the Indian coal has low Gross Calorific Value compared to the developed countries.

Who can generate electricity?

According to the Electricity Act 2003, electricity generation can be undertaken by any person either to sell the generated electricity to the distribution company or for self use.

What is meant by a licensed activity?

As per the Electricity Act 2003, a licensed activity means transmission, distribution and trading of electricity. No person shall be permitted to conduct the above mentioned activities without getting authorized by the Central Regulatory Commission and the State Regulatory Commission who will issue the Licenses.

What is captive generation?

According to the Electricity Act, 2003, captive generating plant is a power plant set up by any person (associations/ industries/co-operatives) to generate electricity primarily for his own use. The captive power plants are allowed to sell their surplus power, if any, to the Grid, on a remunerative tariff, as per mutually agreed terms. 

What is off-grid generation?

As the name suggests, off-grid generation in the electricity glossary means that the generating source is not connected to the transmission grid. These units are set up in areas where there is limited or no access to the grid. Therefore, such off-grid generations are suitable in remote rural areas to meet the energy requirements of villagers. 


What Act is pertinent to electricity sector?

The legislation for electricity is the Electricity Act 2003. It states the statutory powers and functions of the bodies concerned with generation, transmission, distribution and trading. 

There are certain clauses of the Act, which talk about having competition in the sector, having transparency in activities like issuing subsidies and determining tariff, establishing regulatory commissions to monitor the sector , to promote energy efficiency and Renewable energy, etc. 

Is electricity central subject or state?

The Electricity sector falls under the concurrent list of Indian constitution. The State and Central Government, both have jurisdiction on it. 

Who are the major players in the electricity sector of Tamil Nadu?

As Electricity is in concurrent list, both the Central and State Govt. share the powers of formulating policies and plans. 

Policy & Planning - Government of Tamil Nadu (Energy Department)

Utility - TANGEDCO TANGEDCO (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Company) TANTRANSCO (Tamil Nadu Transmission Company)Independent Power ProducersCaptive power plantsCentral generating stations

Renewable Energy - TEDA (Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency)

Energy Efficiency - TNEI (Tamil Nadu Electrical Inspectorate)

Regulator - TNERC (Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commision)

Who regulates the sector?

As per the ‘Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act, 1998’ a functional Regulatory Commission was established in Tamil Nadu named the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC). 

The role of a regulatory Commission is to determine the tariff for generation, supply, transmission and wheeling of electricity, to regulate electricity purchase and procurement process of distribution licensees including the price at which electricity shall be procured, to facilitate intra-state transmission and wheeling of electricity, to issue licenses to persons seeking to act as transmission licensees, distribution licensees and electricity traders, to promote cogeneration and generation of electricity from renewable sources of energy, to adjudicate upon the disputes between the licensees, and generating companies, to specify or enforce standards with respect to quality, continuity and reliability of service by licensees. 

Who handles individual consumer grievances?

It is the onus of the Electricity Board officials to take up complaints of their customers and redress them as and when they get. A Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) is present at the Electricity Distribution Centers, a special cell for addressing consumer complaints. The addresses of the CGRF are available on Tangedco’s website. If the complaint is not addressed, the consumer can approach the Electricity Ombudsman in TNERC.

Who handles commercial consumer grievances?

The consumer can approach the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) and also appeal to the APTEL. APTEL was established in 2004 in New Delhi, by Ministry of Power, ‘to hear appeals or original petitions against the orders of the Adjudicating officer or the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission or State Electricity Regulatory Commission or Joint Commission’. Recently, the APTEL has set up a circuit bench in Chennai to hear the appeals.

Does consumer court take up electricity cases?

Yes, further to the CGRF and Electricity Ombudsman when a consumer feels that the CGRF/Ombudsman ruling are not satisfactory or if the complainant does not get any response then the consumer can take up the case to the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum /High Court.






What does your electricity bill consists of?

The electricity bill is made up of these charges,

Electricity/ Energy Charge: These charges are the per unit electricity charge of the electricity consumption. It is mostly defined slab wise (different charges for different consumers) and is inversely proportional with the electricity consumption.

Fixed Charge: This mostly depends on the connected load that the utility provides you. Connected load is typically calculated as sum of wattage of all the appliances that you have at your home. A fixed charge is collected based on the connected load.

Electricity Duty & Tax: This is a tax by the government for using electricity. Duty is applicable for each unit of electricity consumption and tax is applied on the whole bill amount.

Minimum Monthly Charges: In some states, if the consumption is less than a certain amount, minimum monthly charges are applicable, which means that the bill amount cannot be less than the minimum monthly charges. 

Meter Rent: Rent that you pay for a meter at your premises. Rates are different for single phase and three phase meters.

Is there a range for fixing the tariff?

Yes, as per the Electricity Act 2003, the tariff for any category of consumer should be arrived based on the ‘cost to serve’ model. Therefore, the tariff that is going to fixed for a category of consumer should be of the range +\ - 20% of the ‘cost to serve’ of that category.

Who fixes our tariff? 

The electrical utility (TANGEDCO & TANTRANSCO independently) file a Tariff Petition before the Commission (TNERC) seeking for a tariff revision. This tariff petition consists of Annual Revenue Requirement (ARR). 

What is an ARR? What does it have?

The Tariff Petition consists of the ARR (Aggregate Revenue Requirement) of the utilities which shows their audited figures of the previous year, estimated figures of the current year and forecasted figures for ensuing year. This stands a basis for calculating the tariff for electricity (price of electricity).

Who approves our Tariff?

The Commission, keeping in mind the interest of both the utility and the consumers, decides the tariff. It is the responsibility of the Commission at this juncture to organize meetings with public for their acceptance and objections if any. 

Are public notified about the tariff change before it is effected?

Yes, the common public is notified about the tariff revision. The Commission gives an abstract of the petition along with the venue & date of public hearing, and the deadline for submission of comments on newspapers and in the Commission’s website. The copies of the petition are to be made available (in English & Tamil) at the affordable prices to the consumers besides hosting them on the Commission’s website.

What are the means of public participation?

Through public hearing, consumers can give their views/ suggestions for the draft regulation/ paper that are invited for comments. Consumers can either accept the clauses of these regulations or can intervene. 

Are the comments given due consideration? 

The Commission is required to conduct public hearings and consider public comments before issuing the tariff order.