BY CHRIS OCHAYI
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, has said the order to revise the conditions for the fixed charge was made in response to complaints by electricity customers on irregular supply with agitations on the cost of providing such service, arising from the MYTO.
The Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, said this at a meeting with stakeholders in the sector last week in Abuja.
NERC issued a directive with ‘Order No: NERC/FC 133’ dated 1st May, 2014, that “a customer who has not received continuous or cumulative electricity supply for a period of 15 days in a month shall not be required to pay the Fixed Charge, provided that the disruption is not due to non-payment of electricity bills or customers action.”
But the Enugu Disco submitted that the order was made without due consultations with the operators, and that outages are not caused by the Discos alone, as some faults may arise from transmission or generation failures.
Represented by its Administrative General Manager, AGM, Regulatory Affairs, Mr. Reuben Okoye, the company said it is difficult to independently determine customers that had outages in a period and that the penalty for outages should pass across the entire value chain.
Also speaking, a Director of Eko Disco, Ernest Orji, argued that the rule is difficult to implement as the Discos do not yet have statistical meters to determine such claims from consumers.
“In our submission, we argue that there should be a new structure for Service Charge (SC) and no more FC so that a percentage of supply is given as compensation to consumers or exempt them from paying the SC for that period,” he said.
Mr. Abimbola Odubiyi of the Abuja Disco argued that the order will encourage the culture of consumers not paying their bills. He urged NERC to look into the order to ensure sustenance of the market financial progress and extending the rule to the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, Gencos and gas suppliers in the case of similar defaults.
Also speaking, the National Vice President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA, Alhaji Sanusi Maijama’a, also criticised the fixed charge.
Maijama’a, underscored his criticism by noting, “If one million consumers pay the N750 FC monthly, then they are paying N750 billion to the Discos for doing nothing.