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Power consumers kick as NERC denies increasing charges

A power plant

Isola Moses

Barely days after it allegedly ordered the nation’s 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) to jack up electricity tariffs, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) says no tariff increases are yet approved by the power supervisory agency.

News Agency of Nigeria reports Mr. Usman Arabi, General Manager, Public Affairs of NERC made the clarification in a statement issued on the Commission’s Web site, obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, Sunday, January 5, 2020.

Arabi said: “The attention of the NERC has been drawn to the publication in several electronic and print media that end-user electricity tariffs have been increased following the approval of the minor review (2016–2018) of the 2015 Multi-Year Tariff Order on August 21, 2019.

“We wish to provide guidance that the minor review implemented by the Commission was a retrospective adjustment of the tariff regime released in 2015.”

The NERC General Manager, Public Affairs, further stated, “this is to account for changes in macro-economic indices for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018, thus providing certainty about revenue shortfall that may have arisen due to the differential between tariffs approved by the regulator and actual end-user tariffs.

“The commission, therefore, wish to notify the general public that no tariff increase has been approved by the Commission vide the order,” declared.

The NERC in the discharge of its statutory responsibilities enshrined under the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, he added, would continue to undertake periodic reviews of electricity tariffs in accordance with the prevailing tariff methodology.

In respect of all instances of such reviews and rule making, Arabi said the Commission would consult with stakeholders widely, and final decision would take due regard to all contributions.

Kicking against increasing tariffs for electricity consumers, the groups including Energy Consumer Rights and Responsibilities Initiative and All Electricity Consumer Protection Forum, said the increment in electricity tariffs was unjustified based on present realities.

Mr. Sural Fadairo, National President, Energy Consumer Rights and Responsibilities Initiative said, “if they want to increase tariff because the Distribution Companies are under remitting due to debts by consumers, that will not solve the problem.

He reasons if people are refusing to pay now because they are disputing their bills, will they now pay if it is further increased?

“What they need to do is to meter all electricity customers, so that we can end the issue of estimated billing,” Fadairo posited.

“So, from the consumer point of view, we are totally against any increment because power generation and supply has not improved significantly in the country,” he said.

Mr. Adeola Samuel-Ilori, National Coordinator, All Electricity Consumers’ Protection Forum, also said the increase was totally uncalled for in all ramifications.

Acording to him, “the basis for such increase at this time can’t be justified in that consumers have not been metered, and they still purchase transformers and other line materials by themselves with attendant extortion via estimated billings.

“All these are not taken into consideration and extensively dealt with before contemplating tariff increase,” he argued.

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