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Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela
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ELECTRICITY REFORMS & CONSUMER ADVOCACY
 

Consumer Advocacy

Suggestions for Implementation

Use proper channels for communication, make sure your supervisor is aware of your activities, and obtain proper permission where needed.

1.Network. Work with others who have the same interests and objectives.

2.Get involved. Try to get your organization involved in the new regulatory process.

3.Do one for practice. Prepare an argument in support of or in opposition to some current tariff or service issue in your state. Think it through, collect some real numbers, and try some analysis.If it works out, show it to your supervisor and see if there is interest in pursuing it.

4.Write a white paper.Identify a consumer issue in which your company or agency has a legitimate role or interest.Write a white paper suggesting how it could be implemented and set up.(A white paper is a proposal which is circulated on a strictly hypothetical basis, so the author is not exposed to criticism.)

5.Find the news. Start a clipping file of relevant articles on consumer advocacy issues, DSM policies, ESCOís, energy efficient products, financings, regulatory decisions, public energy education, etc.

6.Use the news. The Indian press is very good in business and technical areas. Write a newspaper or magazine article about Consumer Advocacy.Invite a reporter to work with you. Get necessary approvals.

7.Help politicians. Donít blame politics for all Indiaís energy woes. There are votes to be gained in Consumer Advocacy.Prepare a briefing paper with honest facts for your local political representatives, encourage them to support your programs, then support them in turn. Get necessary approvals.

8.Be an opportunist. You know the barriers to implementing Consumer Advocacy programs in India. Successful people and organizations find ways around the barriers.Watch keenly for the right time and the right approach.

9.Be an ďintra-preneurĒ. Look for new business opportunities in Consumer Advocacy (consultancy, analysis, research, etc.) and promote them to your company and company business associates. The problems (opportunities) are enormous. Develop an understanding with your supervisor that allows you to think creatively and supportively.Support intra-preneurship in your subordinates.

10.Develop your energy sense. Using the cost-effectiveness methodologies find some real project numbers and do sensitivity analysis.Learn which inputs (collections effectiveness, fuel costs, O&M expenses, power purchase contracts, debt/equity ratios, interest rates, etc.) have the greatest effect on tariffs and service.

11.Get real numbers.Without real numbers, all the financial analysis, computer models, and decision methodology are only guesswork.Itís going to take a long time to accumulate a database of meaningful, statistically significant data on system loads and losses and consumer usage.Start right now.Push for good meters and instruments, digital data collection and storage systems, and useful databases.

12.Build a team.Consumer Advocacy and energy regulation require many parties, all working together, with good mutual understanding, before anyone can speak out on a policy.Those who speak out alone can easily harm the common interest.Think this way when you propose policies Ė who will be involved, who will be affected, whose cooperation is required. 

13.Get in deeper.Get more training and really learn the tariff methodology your state will be using.Become an expert on Revenue Requirements, Cost Allocations, Resource Planning, and Forecasting.Learn to do the calculations and use the computer models.Get some people on your staff with the computer skills to become real experts in these models, and use them to base your arguments within the regulatory regime.You will be much more effective is your arguments are in the same terms as those of the commissions and the electric companies.

14.Look to your future. Change your job description to reflect new skills. Discuss opportunities within your company with your supervisor or HRD director. Itís OK to look care of your personal career interests, especially since you are trying to act in the public good in an area of great importance to all India.

15.Assess the market. Do some rough calculations of the peak capacity deficit in India.Which sectors have the greatest problems?Which can pay for new capacity?Where are the opportunities for DSM investors, entrepreneurs, and ESCOís?If there is no potential market, donít expect great success from your promotional efforts. 

16.Look to regulators.Since everyone in India has become habituated to state ownership and control of the electric sector, the concept of independent regulators setting tariff policy is unaccustomed.In fact, attempts by state agencies to set policies which affect tariffs could create jurisdictional problems or weaken the proper role of the regulator. The new regulators need your support, and you need theirs.

17.Look to regulators.Some consumer sectors are subsidized, so have little financial incentive to correct very large efficiency and capacity problems.The SEBís and industrial customers receive the benefit from fixing problems in the agricultural sector, for example. The SEBís get the fuel savings; the industrials get the saved power. The new SERCís have responsibility for setting tariff policies to encourage DSM and energy efficiency measures.Work with the regulators to ensure DSM/ESCOís and consumers can share in the savings.

18.Share materials. Share the information you have with your colleagues/associates.

19.Learn more about project finance.India does need foreign investment to help build essential infrastructure.Learn how this works.Non-recourse project finance is an important concept.The project stands on its own merits without depending on credit support from its sponsorsí balance sheets.Truly non-recourse financing may not be attainable, but the concept holds promise for India, and the discipline of project finance helps guarantee successful projects.This topic is a hotbed of ill-informed public discussion, overwrought with emotion, provocation, and ad hominem attacks.India needs your informed and level-headed participation in discussions.

20.Use your human assets.Most Indian companies are overstaffed (particularly SEBís) with experienced degreed engineers.In addition, computerization and upgrades to equipment will free up some manpower.Since they are already on the payroll, they are available (for ďfreeĒ) to join consumer load researach, DSM, and energy efficiency work groups.Consumer Advocacy takes a lot of analysis, fieldwork, and monitoring.

21.Make sure you have the necessary equipment.If you are doing DSM or energy efficiency projects, do you have the necessary measuring equipment, communications equipment, computers, test equipment, monitoring and verification systems, software, models, and procedures?If you donít have what you need, what are you wasting in lost productive time, lost customers, lost credibility at the bank, and lost market share?Are these worth less than the equipment?Get what you need to do the job right.

22.Examine a real DSM project which involved serious capital investment.Get detailed information on the contract and partnership structure of the deal.Make a diagram showing the relationship between the DSM/ESCO, customer, vendors, operators, lenders, lessors, owners, investors, consultants, contractors, construction company, independent engineers, etc.Try to envision what goes on in negotiations between each of these parties.Does this relationship change when the deal is signed?When the project goes into service?

23.Become a financial manager.Spread the concept of financial analysis and financing to your technical managers.Look for every opportunity to increase your own financial skills.

24.Use the web.Today, you must have web access to stay current.Prices are coming down.Get access to the Internet, find out where the sites are that support you, and interact with them.Click here for some of the sites which link to millions of other regulatory and energy efficiency sites:

25.Use the web. Help your own company start a web site and add an energy efficiency page to spread information and produce interested business contacts.

26.Join ETPAAIN.Join the Energy Training Program Alumni Association of India, which is open to all energy professionals.It sponsors roundtables several times each year, shares information and opportunities with its members, and supports policy formation. Contact Anita Kochhar, akochhar@del3.vsnl.net.in.

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Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela