NERC Fines Port Harcourt Disco N38m for Regulatory Breaches

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Chineme Okafor in Abuja

For failing to submit its audited financial report since 2013 when it took over the running of its network, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has imposed another fine of N37.5 million on the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED).

According a statement from the Head, Public Affairs of NERC, Dr. Usman Abba, the Commission said, the fine was contained in a Directive 158 which was jointly signed by NERC acting Chairman, Dr. Anthony Akah and its General Manager, Legal Licensing and Enforcement, Mrs. Olufunke Dinneh.

The regulatory agency alleged that the Port Harcourt Disco has consistently flouted its licensing conditions, which required it to submit yearly audited financial report. It said subsequent directives to the power company to obey the licensing conditions were disregarded by the Disco.

It explained that the Port Harcourt Disco had flouted at least four of its licensing conditions for failing to submit two years financial reports.

Each of the four grounds of infringement NERC stated, attracted a N10, 000 fines per day beginning from April 1, 2014 when the offences were first brought to the utility firm’s attention.

“For failing to comply with the licence terms and conditions, and other regulatory instruments, which is a breach under Section 63 (1) of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005, PHED is hereby fined Ten Thousand Naira per day, from April 1, 2014.

“For failing to comply with Condition 6 (7) of the Electricity Distribution Licence terms and conditions granted PHED by the Commission, PHED is hereby fined Ten Thousand Naira from April 1, 2014 till the date of this Directive.

“For failing to comply with Conditions 23 (1) of the Distribution Licence Terms and Conditions granted PHED by the Commission, PHED is hereby fined Ten Thousand Naira per day from April 1, 2014,” the statement in Abuja explained.

It noted that the Disco was further sanctioned for failing to provide the Commission with the requested financial information, which it added was a breach under Condition 4 of the Distribution Licence Terms and Conditions, and it was also fined N10,000 per day from April 1, 2014.

The NERC further explained: “The fines run concurrently from April 1, 2014 being the date the first financial report was due. Directive 158 further stipulates that the N37, 520, 000 being the total fine sum should be paid within two weeks counting from October 24, 2016 when Directive 158 was signed.”

NERC stated that besides paying the fine, Port Harcourt Disco was equally expected to comply with the submission of its financial report within the stipulated time, adding that after that period, the fine will start running at five per cent interest rate until it is liquidated.
In June 2016, Port Harcourt Disco and other Discos were sanctioned over their failure to comply with the NERC’s Forum directive on customer complaints.

The statement however quoted Akah to have said on the development that: “The Commission expects operators in the power sector to play by the rules and that the Commission will continue to provide enabling environment for them as much as it will ensure that the rights of electricity customers are not violated.”