The 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.