‘Occupancy certificate not must for power supply’

Businesses, educational institutions and hospitals can get power supply without having to produce an occupancy certificate (OC), the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) has proposed in draft rules that are out for public scrutiny. 

Not just businesses, the regulator has proposed doing away with OC for residential and commercial buildings to get power supply. 

Citizens can reach out to KERC with suggestions or objections on the draft Conditions of Supply of Electricity of Distribution Licensees in the State of Karnataka (Tenth Amendment), 2022, before May 30. 

According to the KERC notification, the government has already done away with the OC requirement for buildings in Bengaluru municipal limits. Municipalities issue OC to declare a building fit to be used. The lack of an OC usually means the building flouts laws.

Now, the proposed conditions will apply across Karnataka.

Even industry bodies such as the Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association had sought this reform. State-run electricity supply companies (Escoms) have been arguing that they need not ask for OCs.

“The onus of ensuring that the applicants possess OC cannot be thrust upon the distribution licensees in the presence of authorities that are responsible to monitor the same,” Escoms have told KERC. 

“It is the duty of distribution licensee to ensure that electricity is supplied on request and not to insist on the production of OC, for the purpose of granting permanent electricity connection,” they have stated. 

Apparently, Escoms are losing out on consumers because of the OC requirement. “When the Escoms deny the consumers of power supply for want of OC, such consumers will resort to drawing power through open access,” they say, according to the KERC notification. “The existing consumers whose installations are not serviced for want of OC will slowly shift to open access, which will ultimately cause severe financial strain to Escoms,” they contend. 

Energy Minister V Sunil Kumar told DH that removing the OC requirement will be a win-win move. “At present, some people are using temporary connections whereas others are using generators for power supply,” he pointed out. “While temporary connections will get us revenue, it is not good in the long-run.” 

Under the new conditions, once finalised, Kumar said all “unauthorised” buildings will be given connections as a one-time measure. “Going forward, the onus will be on the local bodies to check OC and we won’t take that responsibility,” he said.