NERC Public Hearing Inconclusive as TCN Fails to Make Case for Tariff Hike

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By Emmanuel Addeh

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) Wednesday came under fire from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) over the company’s inability to present a good case for an increase in electricity tariff currently paid by Nigerians.

The public hearing scheduled to apprise stakeholders with comprehensive reasons why the regulatory agency should consider the request by the transmission company ended abruptly in Abuja after the TCN, for several hours, failed to convince the stakeholders.

TCN, represented by Mr Edmond Eje, told the three-member NERC panel that all the details were already with the regulatory agency, stressing that there was no need to rehash them.

But Mr Sanusi Garba, Chairman of the panel and Vice-Chairman, NERC, reminded TCN that the hearing was in line with the business rules of the commission in relevant portions of the act setting it up, which requires the transmission company to present its case to the panel of three and some conveners to interrogate the submission of TCN whether they deserved the hike in tariff or not.

“Our opinion is that the presentation has not displayed any justification why the hike should be effected.

“The focus should be more about why you want an increase. Because whatever we approve as a commission is going to be paid by somebody else, the consumer.

“That is why the stakeholders are asking why this needs to be done. We were expecting a comprehensive presentation of what you want and why you want it.

“I think we have got to a point to decide whether to proceed with this hearing. The point is whatever rates are approved, consumers are going to pay, the point of this sitting is to justify to the public why the rates should be approved.

“There’s nothing that’s classified in this business. Everything is open. Whatever you have, you are to present it. Put everything out for everyone to hear,” Garba said.

Also, Dafe Akpeneye, Commissioner, Legal, Licensing and Compliance, NERC, and member of the panel, argued that public hearings take place all over the world, stressing that if the TCN wanted an approval of new rates, it should be able to make a good case for it.

“It’s not for you to come here and say there have been subsequent or previous presentations you made to the commission. It is at this point that your filings are considered by the commission and interrogated by the people who will pay. You need to come another day prepared.

“Right now, there’s nothing to hold on to for the commission to make a resolution on. You need to have a detailed presentation stating what you have done. These issues are not addressed. These are issues that we put before the public. As we sit here, there’s nothing from the TCN,” he said.

Earlier, the TCN representative, Eje, said the operator was of the view that what was proposed as the tariff was not good enough to provide the quality of service and as a result needed a review.

“They (NERC) told us to go for due diligence and we did and we settled for 260 megawatts and after the conditions required, we came out with an equivalent demand of 3.6 billion per month.

“The regulator didn’t look at it kindly. They said it will be too difficult to do the spinning reserve,” Eje said.

He argued that the details were not for public consumption since they were already with the commission, a point which was countered by the panel chair, who noted that there’s no secrecy in the operation of the commission and the entire electricity sector.

The public hearing was subsequently rescheduled for Monday to allow the TCN prepare and present a good case before the stakeholders.