By Emmanuel Addeh
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) said Tuesday that it is reviewing the responses of some power distribution companies (Discos) to its queries on the flouting of capping order issued by the commission.
The electricity sector’s regulatory agency had given the Discos 14 days to explain why they should not be punished for breaching the capping order on estimated billing of customers without meters.
NERC’s order 197/2020 had placed limits on estimated bills that can be issued by Discos to unmetered electricity customers of residential (R2) and commercial (C1).
The regulatory commission listed the defaulting Discos as Benin, Enugu, Eko, Ikeja, Kano, Kaduna and Port Harcourt, stressing that if after the 14-day deadline the Discos were unable to give any tenable reasons for their action, the rules would be applied appropriately.
While the deadline given the power distributors lapsed on June 18, NERC has, however, declined to make public the details of the sanctions, if any or whether the agency was satisfied with the alleged errant Discos’ explanations.
However, a top source in the commission told THISDAY that the Discos had responded within the deadline given to them, noting that NERC was currently studying the reasons given by the power distributors on why they should not be sanctioned.
The source added that though the deadline given the Discos had expired, there are also timelines within which NERC could review the responses and either apply sanctions or allow the matter pale out if the commission was convinced by the reasons given by the Discos.
“It’s a process to find justice. So, we had actually given them deadlines on the decision to enforce compliance. So, some of them have responded and then those who have responded, it’s the duty of the commission to analyse and review and there are timelines for all the actions.
“So, it’s not immediate or spontaneous as some people are envisaging. It’s not like that. The process is ongoing and as soon as we are done, we will make our findings public,” the source noted.
It said that the commission would not hesitate to wield its power if the seven power distributors are found guilty of flouting the order.
In February, NERC issued an Order No/NERC/197/2020 on capping of estimated billings in Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), placing a cap on estimated bill to unmetered customers.
It added that the order was to protect unmetered R2 (Residential-single and 3-phase meters, who consume more than 50kWh per month) and C1 (Commercial-single and 3-phase meters, small businesses) customers from arbitrary billing and expedite their metering process.
The organisation stressed that all unmetered R2 and C1 customers shall not be invoiced for consumption of energy beyond the price capped in schedule, which was N1,872.00 for R2, where consumption is capped at 78-kilowatt hour per month at a tariff of N24 per kilowatt.
According to the order, any customer whose current estimated bill is below the capped price shall remain so without upward review until the installation of a meter by the power distributors.
The regulator noted that any customer who rejects the installation of a meter was liable to disconnection.