Electricity Regulator Says Nigerians Have Right To Reject Estimated Billing

electricity-supply-in-nigeriaThe Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission is asking electricity consumers to reject any estimated billing from distribution companies, saying such action contravenes the laws regulating the sector.

The Acting Chairman of the Commission, Mr Anthony Akah, gave the advice in Abuja when the House Committee on Power made its oversight visit to the commission.

According to him, the regulation clearly states that electricity consumers have rights to reject estimated bills if the distribution companies refused to install pre-paid metres for their customers.

“We also have a regulation that makes it disincentive for the DISCOS not to metre customers. It says clearly that any customer that has no metre has the rights to reject the estimated bills if he feels that the bill does not reflect the quantity of power that was sent to him.

“However, he has to pay for the last month he agreed and immediately write to the DISCO and copy our office for them to come and prove why they gave him estimated bill that does not reflect what he consumed.

“The DISCO under that circumstance cannot disconnect them and cannot give them further bills until the issue is resolved,” he explained.

Mr Akah also listed some efforts made by the commission to regulate the sector.

After he briefed the lawmakers, they drew the attention of the commission to the need to regulate electricity billing system within the confines of existing laws.

“We will always, as representatives of the people, be on the side of the people whether it does not favour the regulator or favour the distribution companies, we will be on the side of the people in such a way that we will be able to explain to our people that power is not a social service, but that it comes with cost, but this cost must be accommodated in the laws of our land,” the Chairman of the House Committee on Power, Daniel Asuquo, stressed.

20,000 megawatts Not Feasible

The lawmakers also visited the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (N-BET), to assess how it is contributing to government’s efforts to stabilise electricity supply in Nigeria.

After listing several interventions of the company to help stabilise electricity supply, the Managing Director of N-Bet, Marilyn Amobi, stated that the Federal Government’s target for 20,000 megawatts of electricity by the year 2020 was not feasible.

“We do not have the capacity, and you have heard that before, there is a lot of what I call talk shows that happen in Nigeria every day. Every day there is one seminar, people brand around all kinds of numbers, the truth is that we don’t have a grid that can take the capacity.

“But more importantly, we need to be able to plan for that level of investment for it to come in, but at this point the answer is there will be no 20,000 megawatts by 2020. There is nothing we can do today to make it happen,” she said.

Nigeria’s dependence on gas and hydro to power the electricity sector has been grossly inadequate, as power continues to fluctuate between 2,000 and 5,000 megawatts in the last one year.

Hence, some experts argue that other sources of energy must be developed to meet the estimated 25,000 megawatts of electricity demand by the over 160 million population.

NERC Job: Professor Akinwande To Honour Screening After MIT Clearance

NERC, Professor Akintunde AkinwandeNominated Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Professor Akintunde Akinwande, says he will honour an invitation for screening by the Nigerian Senate after clearing with his current employer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA.

A statement by the President’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, disclosed that Professor Akinwande had said he did not turn down the offer by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to Adesina, the declaration is contained in a letter dated October 26, 2016, addressed to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and sent through the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang.

The letter reads in part: “News reports in Nigeria that I have rejected President Buhari’s nomination to be Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission have been brought to my attention.

“I have the greatest respect for President Buhari. I am fully behind the change he has brought and is bringing to the way government business is conducted in Nigeria.

“I am deeply honoured that Mr President and his team thought me worthy for this important national assignment and sought me out for it.

“I am a tenured professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“As such, I am contractually constrained to seek formally the consent of the university for a leave of absence before presenting myself to the Senate for screening and if confirmed take on the assignment.”

Professor Akinwande apologised to the Senate Committee for not showing up for the screening process scheduled for Tuesday, October 25, noting that it was not out of disrespect for the institution.

The academic said he would be available for the screening after clearance from the MIT.

DISCOs Call On FG To Avert Electricity Tariff Increase

Electricity, BEDCElectricity distribution companies in Nigeria have called on the federal government to intervene in the power sector in order to avert an increase of over 200% in electricity tariff.

According to the operators, the intervention which is needed to address over 800 billion Naira revenue shortfall can come like subsidies to consumers or provision of special access to foreign exchange for the operating companies.

The average energy rate across the country is 22 Naira 8 kobo per kilowatt, but distributors say this may increase to between 70 Naira and 105 Naira per kilowatt if the revenue shortfall persists.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, Azu Obiaya, reportedly said the debts owed to power distribution companies by private electricity consumers, businesses and government authorities have climbed to about N568 billion.

He added that those debts are affecting the operations of the distribution companies and many are no longer able meet targets and service consumers.

Reports say a proposal for the increment of electricity tariff has been sent to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.

An electricity tariff approved by the NERC took effect in February, 2016.

The commission also removed fixed electricity charges ordering that Discos should only bill consumers for what they consume.

NERC said “although, the new tariff regimes comes with an increase in energy charges, all electricity consumers (residential as well as commercial) will no longer pay fixed charges, so their total bills will depend on the electricity they actually consume and may be reduced when they conserve electricity.”

BEDC Decries Court’s Ruling On Electricity Tariff

Electricity, BEDC, Electricity TariffThe Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) has criticised the judgement of a Federal High Court in Lagos which declared the present electricity tariff system being used by the 11 distribution companies in Nigeria void.

The Manager, Corporate Affairs, BEDC, Tayo Adekunle, stated this on Monday during an interview with Channels Television at the company’s headquarters in Benin City, the Edo State capital in south-south Nigeria.

He said that the court’s decision was inimical to the progress of the power sector.

However, a civil rights activist, Omobude Agho, has lauded the judgement of the court.

He accused the distribution companies of exploiting Nigerians with the new price regime.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had in an earlier interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, discredited claims that it flouted the court’s injunction on the tariff increase.

The commission noted that the lack of understanding of the privatisation and reform policy was responsible for the reactions that have trailed the electricity tariff increase.

Tariff Hike: NERC Insists Court Order Not Flouted

NERC-Abdulkadir-Shettima-Court-ElectricityThe Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has said that it did not go against the court’s injunction on electricity tariff increase.

The Deputy General Manager, Head, Tariff and Rates of NERC, Mr Abdulkadir Shettima, said this on Sunrise Daily.

“We don’t think we did. In our understanding (of) the court order, the plaintiff  didn’t sue as a class action, he sued on his behalf.

“For instance I am a customer, you are a customer (and) nobody consulted me. I personally feel that action by the plaintiff is going to set the industry back, it’s going to put problems or delay in getting electricity,” he said.

Understanding The Policy

The NERC official told Channels Television on Monday that the lack of understanding of the privatisation and reform policy was responsible for the reactions that have trailed the electricity tariff increase.

He said that the commission was yet to receive a certified copy of the judgement, insisting that all the required processes in the law were followed.

“I think it is lack of understanding from the policy behind this privatisation, the reform, and the growth of the electricity industry.

“The point is that we believed the person sued in his own capacity and his tariff was not increased. So we don’t believe that we flouted the injunction,” Shettima said.

Court Re-affirms Existing Order Against Electricity Tariff Increase

Electricity-meter electricity tariff increaseA Federal High Court in Lagos has re-affirmed the existing order restraining the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) from implementing any upward review of electricity tariff.

While delivering a ruling on Monday on the objections of the NERC to a contempt charge against them, Justice Mohammed Idris asked the NERC to abide by the court order pending the hearing and final determination of a suit filed by a lawyer and rights activist, Toluwani Adebiyi, over the issue.

The plaintiff, Mr Adebiyi had sought to commit the NERC Chairman and the CEOs of the Distribution Companies (Discos) to prison for announcing the implementation of the new electricity tariff despite a subsisting court order barring same.

In his ruling, Justice Idris said: “Let me warn that when the disciplinary jurisdiction of this court is properly invoked, anyone who is found to have ignored the order of the court will be dealt with severely. The order of this court that parties in this suit should maintain the status quo remains valid and binding until it is set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction”.

“The issue of disobedience to court’s order is one that affects the integrity of the court. There is a need for the court to assert its authority and deal with any issue that is capable of bringing it to disrepute. Those who intend to take the judicial system for a ride should think twice and those who have done so should retrace their steps, the long arm of the law will catch up with them no matter how long it takes,” he further stressed.

Justice Idris had earlier in his ruling set aside the Form 49 and the motion for committal to prison filed against the defendants by the plaintiff.

The judge held that the issuance of form 49 on the defendants by the plaintiff without prior and proper service of form 48 was premature.

“In the circumstance, I hold that the defendant’s objection has merit. The court has set aside the contempt application due to fundamental and procedural irregularities,” the judge said.

The court has since adjourned till March 15 for hearing of all pending applications.

Adebiyi’s Substantive Suit

Mr Adebiyi, in the substantive suit, is seeking an order restraining NERC from implementing any upward review of electricity tariff without a meaningful and significant improvement in power supply at least for 18 hours in a day in most communities in Nigeria.

He also wants an order restraining NERC from foisting compulsory service charge on pre-paid meters not until “the meters are designed to read charges per second of consumption and not a flat rate of service not rendered or power not used”.

He also wants the service charge on pre-paid meters not to be enforced until there is visible efficient and reliable power supply like those of foreign countries where the idea of service charge was borrowed.

Adebiyi is further asking for an order of court mandating the NERC to do the needful and generate more power to meet the electricity use of Nigerians, adding that the needful should include and not limited to a multiple long-term financing approach, sourced from the banks, capital market, insurance and other sectors of finance to power the sector.

Finally, the lawyer is asking the court to mandate the NERC to make available to all Nigerians within a reasonable time of maximum of two years, prepaid meters as a way to stop the throat-cutting indiscriminate estimated bill and which must be devoid of the arbitrary service charge, but only chargeable on power consumed.

In an affidavit in support of the suit personally deposed to by the applicant, the lawyer lamented that despite the motto and mission of NERC which were expressly stated as “keeping the light on and to meet the needs of Nigeria for safe, adequate, reliable and affordable electricity,” most communities in Nigeria do not get more than 30 minutes if electricity supply, while the remaining 23 hours and 30 minutes were always without light and in total darkness.

“Nigeria poor masses are paying an estimated and indiscriminate residential bills ranging from 5, 000 Naira to 18, 000 Naira, spending an average of 15, 000 Naira to 20, 000 Naira for fuel to maintain generating set.

“Businesses have collapsed, industries have closed down, and residents cannot sleep comfortably at night due to inefficiency of our power industry”.

“Companies and commercial Houses are groaning under throat-cutting power bill which they are paying for, yet not getting the benefit for such payment,” Adebiyi stated.

He stressed that the proposed increase in electricity tariff was coming amidst the tangled web of poor power supply with no reasonable proof of improvement.

“The situation is self-evident, it readily speaks for itself because everyone is suffering from poor power outrage.

“Bringing further increase amidst this tangled web of hardship and without any improvement in power supply, will be highly unjustifiable and will be an economic burden on Nigeria populace. It is totally absurd and not for the good of the people, and therefore must be stopped,” Adebiyi submitted.

Electricity Tariff: NERC Has Not Lived Up To Expectation – Expert

David AderibigbeA Power Expert has faulted the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Distribution Companies (DISCOs) over increments in the electricity tariff.

Mr David Aderibigbe was speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday.

“There are conditions and variables that must be affected in the economy before you can have a minor or major increment in the electricity tariff.

“The minor review involves: exchange rate, variability inflation, gas pricing and perhaps, the cost of generation and transmission,” he said.

The Professor of Mechanical Engineering suggested that the DISCOs should have rated the increase in a particular direction.

“I think there is nothing much to do other than working on the rate of increase which must be in a particular direction. What would be the government’s policy so that the consumers will benefit from it?, what would be the government’s policy with regards to the responsibility of the operators and what should be the responsibility of the consumers?,” he asked.

Fixed Charge Component of Electricity Tariff
Fixed Charge Component of Electricity Tariff

Speaking further on if due process was followed before the increment of the electricity tariff, the Power Expert said that “the issue of due process is more of consultation.

“The increment has been established by the law since the prorogation of the ESPRA act in 2005. The ESPRA act boarders on the multi-year tariff order that  regulates the pricing in the electricity tariff.

“It was put in place to ensure that the investors or the DISCOs were able to make back their investment.

“The basis was that there couldn’t have been a step change from cost reflective tariff that we were trying to move to at that time,” he explained.

New Electricity Tariffs: Regulator Insists On Adequate Service Delivery

Tony-AkahThe Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) says in view of the recent hike in electricity tariffs, operators would be held accountable to every aspect of their service agreements.

The Acting Head of the NERC Tony Akah, told reporters on Wednesday that it was the first time the sector would have a realistic tariff that would ensure operators have a fair return on their investment in the sector.

But he also stressed that Nigerians have been empowered to insist on their rights going forward.

“It is fundamentally important right now that since we have balanced the tariff aspect of it, we as regulator are holding the operators, especially the distribution companies, accountable for every bit of their service agreement.

“We have also embarked on massive consumer education and we expect that by doing that, Nigerians will be well informed and well empowered to insist on the right,” he said.

“Right To Say No”

He emphasised that the era of getting Nigerians or communities compelled to buy electric poles, transformers or repair transformers was over and totally not acceptable.

“We are holding the distribution companies accountable,” he reiterated.

The NERC boss also said that the commission had put mechanisms in place to ensure that the distribution companies (DISCOS) meter all Nigerian customers.

“One of the principal mechanisms in this tariff regime is that the DISCOS must meter all Nigerian customers and failure to meter them within the time frame means that Nigerians will not be disconnected and you cannot estimate them.

“It also gives the power to Nigerian customers to reject their power bill if they feel that, as metered customers, there is a crazy bill that is grossly not realistic.

“You have the right to say no I am am not going to pay that bill.

“We have given them the power to pay the last bill that they accepted to pay pending the resolution of the disputed bill,” he told reporters in Abuja.

Mr Akah further stated that there were inbuilt mechanisms that were very robust and strong to ensure that the sector played by the rule.

He warned operators that the commission had ample powers to sanction them, saying that mechanism were in place to monitor them.

“We will do what we need to do going forward,” he stressed.

Diverse reactions had trailed the new electricity tariff, with many consumer complaining that the service they receive and the moment do not measure up with the charges, but the new regime had given them the power to reject bills that do not reflect the power consumed.

Increased Electricity Tariff Will Ensure More Power Supply – Amadi

ElectricityThe former chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Sam Amadi has given reason why the new electricity tariff should be embraced by Nigerians.

Mr Amadi told Channels Television that the new tariff would ensure more power supply, improve service, help achieve a smooth meter roll out, ensure more hours of power supply and remove fixed charges to enable people pay for only what they consume.

Speaking as a guest on Sunrise Daily, he said that the tariff would reset the electricity market for higher efficiency with the need to have more quantities and create a market in which customers are satisfied with what they are paying for.

Mr Amadi said that he had met with the National Assembly to explain how billings were made, adding that it was presented to the House before the new tariff came out.

He also said that before the tariff was issued, the NERC had met with the distribution companies (DISCOs) to show them what they intended to do.

“Two days before the issuing of the new tariff we had done all consultations with the House, DISCOs and market before issuing,” he said.

He added that the decision was in the best interest of the market.

Government Woos Investors On Solar Power Project

NERCThe Federal Government of Nigeria says it is wooing investors to fund the solar power projects to boost electricity supply in the nation.

While addressing a meeting which focused on how to finance Africa’s power sector held in Abuja on Monday, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Power, Ambassador Godknows Ighali, said ‎the generation of solar power across the country would ensure that rural communities access power at affordable rates.

The Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Sam Amadi, expressed delight over the improvement of power supply, but appealed to distribution companies to improve their efficiency.

While some level of achievement could be said to have been attained in the past month, government officials believe investing in alternative energy sources would ensure that all parts of the country had steady electricity supply.

Electricity Fixed Charges: Regulator Says Abolition Not Possible

power-plant-with-meterThe Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has ruled out the abolition of fixed charges on electricity tariffs, as recently directed by the Senate.

An official of the regulatory body said that the directive undermined the electricity laws enacted by the National Assembly.

The Chairman of the NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, told reporters on Monday that taking such a decision without appropriate consideration could cause a collapse in the power sector.

Dr. Amadi said that due process, which is currently ongoing, could cause a review of fixed charges to ensure free and reasonable costs to consumers.

He reiterated that the fixed charges were legal and an important part of electricity pricing framework that supports the functioning of electricity generation, transmission and distribution, without which the sector might collapse.

Exploitative In Nigeria

He said fixed charges were part of electricity market globally but tends to be exploitative in Nigeria, as a result of epileptic power supply for which consumers are compelled to pay, a trend he said would change, as electricity generation and supply improve.

Since the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria and the introduction of distribution companies, the power sector has been beset by complaints of outrageous electricity bills and tariffs by different levels of consumers.

On July 11, 2015, the Senate asked the NERC to abolish fixed charges paid by electricity consumers across the country.

To eliminate the negative impact and perception of the fixed charges, Dr. Amadi said the commission had mandated the distribution companies to restructure the charges to ensure that it was proportionate to actual electricity consumed.

Also addressed by the commission was consumers’ concern on estimated billing which the NERC boss said a public consultation would soon be conveyed towards introducing a benchmark for estimations to end outrageous bills.

Abolish Fixed Charges, Senate Tells Electricity Regulatory Body

NERCThe Senate has urged the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), to abolish fixed charges collected from electricity consumers.

Federal lawmakers at Tuesday’s plenary session, made the resolution after reviewing the operations of the electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) since the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria.

The Senate urged the commission to advise the DISCOs to end bulk metering as well as halt the practice of making consumers pay for poles and transformers, which by law, are properties of electricity distribution companies.

Most of the Senators, who contributed to the motion, narrated tales of woes on electricity supply and billing in their constituencies, accusing the DISCOs of running fraudulent operations and acts of extortion.

Some of the lawmakers said that while they expected the privatisation of the power sector to guarantee stable power supply, the situation had grown from bad to worse.

In a special report by Channels Television, residents of Karamajiji, a settlement in the Federal Capital Territory, had lamented the outrageous electricity bills which the distribution company hands down to them every month end.

The Senators have now said that consumers should give notice of where they purchase items to the DISCOs and the DISCOs should in turn be entitled to recover their expenses from subsequent consumption of electricity.