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

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Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) yesterday came under fire from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) over the company’s inability to present a good case for a raise in the electricity tariffs currently being 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 Chairman of the panel and Vice Chairman, NERC, Mr. Sanusi Garba, 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 tariffs 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 or not. The point is whatever rates are approved, consumers are going to pay; however, 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, NREC Commissioner for Legal, Licencing and Compliance, Dafe Akpeneye, who is a 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.

According to him, “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. You need to have a detailed presentation stating what you have done. These issues are not addressed, and these are issues that we put before the public. As we sit here, there’s nothing from the TCN.”

Earlier, the TCN representative 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.

TCN said: “They (NERC) told us to go for due diligence and we did and settled for 260 megawatts, and after the conditions required, we came out with an equivalent demand of N3.6 billion per month.

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