by Tahiru Sherriff
A consultative session organized by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is according to Dr. Sam Amadi a first step in a series of moves aimed at developing a sector wide policy on the maximum monthly bill for electricity customers without meters.
While speaking to during the session held in Abuja yesterday Dr. Sam Amadi said ‘The idea is how to protect those without meters. Our challenge is how that can be done? Electricity providers cannot continue to charge un-metered people sporadically and we cannot sit quietly while millions of Nigerians are complaining’
The move by the NERC represents a policy shift towards addressing illegal practices by distribution companies (Discos) operating in several parts of the country. It also comes as a response to complaints from millions of Nigerians who have lamented over the unregulated bills issued to them by the distribution companies. For the customers, the policy would check the excesses of the distribution companies who are seemingly benefiting from the status quo and are working against all NERC’s plans for customers to be metered and billed according to what they consume.
But officials of the DISCOs while making their presentations during the forum argued that the initiative, if implemented, will undoubtedly reduce their expected revenue as well as encourage metered customers to refrain from using meters in preference of estimated billing. For some Disco’s this move places too much incentive on the customer’s hand.
The representative of the Nigerian Electricity Consumers Association Network Mrs. Lizzy Igbine, at the event yesterday, stated that electricity companies also have a responsibility to extend the decision making process to their customers as well.
‘Customers are not always involved in all this processes. We have to look for cover for the new entrance by law and a way for consumers to have a voice. The consumers have no say. The buyers have a say in the market as well’
Also during the session, the NERC discussed its anticipated process to legally break down and restructure the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) into two functional components; Transmission Service Provider (TSP) and Independent System Operator (ISO) for ease of running of the country’s transmission network.
“This is the beginning of a series of consultations. We have not taken a position. Our question is if this is the right time, and we have to find out the general policy direction of the new government” Stated Dr. Sam Amadi
NERC’s intended restructuring of TCN is reportedly in line with the provisions in Sections 65 and 66 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSR) 2005 which provided for the separation of the entities.