- CPC wants distribution firms to end arbitrary billing
Peter Uzoho and Sharon Emi
Electricity distribution companies under the aegis of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) has faulted the position of the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, on the performance of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) in the state
This is coming as the Director General of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Mr. Babatunde Irukera, has called on the Discos to address the issue of arbitrary billing which is one of the major concerns always raised by electricity consumers in the country, saying they (Discos) should entrench transparency in their billing process.
In a statement issued by the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, ANED, Mr. Sunday Oduntan, the umbrella body of Discos expressed its displeasure over the treatment of the Managing Director of BEDC, Mrs. FunkeOsibodu, by Obaseki during an oversight visit to the state by members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Power.
The governor was reported to have walked Osibodu out of his office during the meeting because of what he (Obaseki) described as “failing to meet obligations to electricity consumers in the state.”
Oduntan said: “What is most unfortunate about the whole episode is that there is a misunderstanding about how the power sector works and this has led to the governor’s unfair expectations from BEDC. I cannot also rule out with the upcoming elections and everyone looking for scapegoats, that local politics may be involved in this case and that is highly unfortunate.
“He mentioned that the state generates over 600MW and as such should not be encountering power supply challenges. However, he needs to understand that the power generated at Azura or any other power plant in the country for that matter is first sent to the national grid from where it is redistributed to different Discos for distribution to customers.
“Benin Disco is only entitled to nine per cent of the power sent out from the national grid. So it is clear that the Disco does not have the power to retain the 600MW generated by Azura.
Oduntan further explained: “More interestingly is the fact that out of this nine per cent, over 40 per cent of it distributed within Edo State as the host community of the Disco. The other three states in the franchise area – Delta, Ekiti and Ondo, share the remaining 60 per cent. You can clearly see therefore that Edo State enjoys the lion share of what the Disco gets already. To allocate more to Edo, which is what the governor is advocating for, will be grossly unfair to the other states.”
Meanwhile, the Director General of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Mr. Babatunde Irukera, has called on the Discos to address the issue of arbitrary billing which is one of the major concerns always raised by electricity consumers in the country, saying they (Discos) should entrench transparency in their billing process.
Irukera gave the advice on Wednesday at the customer engagement/town hall meeting in Surulere, organised by the Eko Distribution Company (EKEDC) in collaboration with the CPC.
“It’s very clear to us, we have taken a very clear position that there are a few things that we think are absolutely unacceptable. One of them is the arbitrary bills –billings that have no rational basis or support from the use standpoint.
“Secondly, group disconnection, because what that does is to penalise some of the people who have behaved appropriately for the conduct of those who have behaved inappropriately,” Irukera said.
The CPC boss also urged the Discos to also address excessive outages, adding that illegal escalation and mechanism that allows things that have gone wrong to remain for a significant period of time needs to be addressed.
Also speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the meeting, the Managing Director of Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Mr. Adeoye Fadeyibi, said the meeting was refreshing and fruitful
Fadeyibi noted that the goal of the company was to ensure it delivers regular power supply to its customers under a safe environment while also ensuring that the deserved bill was paid.
Reacting to the CPC boss’ position that customers should pay only what they consume, Fadeyibi said as a business that is accountable for the whole market –the Gencos, TCN, NEC, Discos, the system must rightfully pay for all the power that come from the grid to the people. “So who then accounts for the losses?” he asked.
“We all agreed that there is a problem, we all agreed to face the problem together. So issues of those by-passes, issues of overloaded transformers, issues of group disconnection, issues of arbitrary billing. Yes, we define each of those problems, so how do we now reduce or even eliminate them. So for us today was fantastic.
“We talked about the Meter Access Providers (MAP) as something that will create a lot of relief to the system; we can do faster under a separate kind of agreement as being managed also by the regulator (NEC). But we are also clear to state that an ideal situation will be everywhere from the feeder to the transformer down to every enumerated customer is metered, that’s the ideal situation. Continuing to meter arbitrarily at different locations doesn’t solve the problem.”