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AEDC: FCCPC hails power regulator for fines over tariff hike infractions, urges consumer protection

Photo Collage of FCCPC and Electricity Workers Credit: Radio Nigeria

*Dr. Adamu Abdullahi, Acting Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, says NERC’s recent enforcement action against Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, represents a crucial step towards upholding consumer rights and ensuring fairness within Nigeria’s electricity industry

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) had commended the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (NERC) recent enforcement action against the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) for violating the Supplementary Order to the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) 2024.

The FCCPC, in a statement issued Sunday, April 7, 2024, noted the NERC regulatory action includes a mandate for AEDC to reimburse all consumers in Bands B, C, D, and E.

ConsumerConnect had reported the DisCo acknowledged that it billed electricity consumers above the allowed tariff hike bands, a transaction error that has attracted a fine of ₦200 million from NERC.

Dr. Adamu Abdullahi, Acting Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of FCCPC, in the statement said: “It represents a crucial step towards upholding consumer rights and ensuring fairness within Nigeria’s electricity industry.”

Abdullahi stated that the market urged more robust and vigilant enforcement, as well as greater transparency in billing and power supply, as a balance to the recently increased tariff for Band A power consumers.

“NERC’s decision to penalise AEDC reinforces FCCPC’s strong advocacy for protecting consumers from unfair market practices, as mandated by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) 2018.

“Notably, this action was taken within 48 hours of the introduction of a new tariff regime for Band A customers,” said the Acting EVC/CEO of the Commission.

According to Abdullahi, as NERC approved the tariff realignment and Service Delivery Commitments for Band A electricity customers to ensure the sustainability and viability of Distribution Companies (DisCos) and the entire electricity sector, the FCCPC acknowledges “the legitimate concerns raised by consumers.

He also disclosed “many consumers have expressed fear that the likelihood of arbitrary estimated billing for unmetered Band A customers could lead to consumer abuse and dissatisfaction.

“DisCos’ repeated failure to meet the minimum power supply hours for respective tariff bands and their failure over time to compensate consumers for service downtime have made consumer grievances worse.”

Abdullahi further explained in order to address these concerns and promote consumer welfare under the current service reflective tariff regime, FCCPC encourages NERC to mandate DisCos to meter all unmetered Band A customers within 60 days, thus ensuring accurate billing and protecting consumers from arbitrary estimations.

The Commission stated: “In addition, we urge NERC to vigorously enforce the cap on estimated bills and ensure compliance with the required daily supply for respective tariff Bands (A to E), thereby promoting fairness in billing practices.

“The FCCPC is pleased with NERC’s recent Order to DisCos to automatically downgrade any Band A feeder that does not enjoy the minimum requirement of 20 hours per day power supply for seven consecutive days.”

The statement noted: “While the Commission will closely monitor the implementation of this directive by all parties, in line with extant laws and an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NERC, we urge NERC to diligently enforce the proposed measures and collaborate with stakeholders to address consumer concerns, in order to foster a sustainable and consumer-friendly electricity market.

“It is the Commission’s view that unless a consumer on Band B, C, D, or E is metered, the DisCo should not be allowed to migrate such a consumer to a higher tariff band to avoid any form of exploitation.”

The Acting EVC/CEO of FCCPC also affirmed this measure will serve as an incentive for DisCos to meter consumers.

“The Commission is confident that NERC will persist in imposing appropriate penalties on DisCos for violations, which will promote compliance and accountability in the electricity industry.

“FCCPC reaffirms its commitment to protecting consumer interests and ensuring equitable practices within Nigeria’s electricity sector,” Abdullahi said in the statement.

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