New Tariff: NERC Fines AEDC N200m for Non-compliance with Prescribed Customer Band Classifications

* Orders power distributor to refund those affected

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja 

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on Friday sanctioned the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) for violating its order on customer classifications.

This is coming on the back of the recent announcement by the power sector regulator of an increase of over 230 per cent for customers in Band ‘A’ that supposedly enjoy 20 hours and above electricity supply daily.

In a statement released in Abuja, NERC also directed AEDC to immediately begin the refund of customers that were unjustifiably moved to Band ‘A’, stressing that the process of reimbursement must be completed by April 11.

“NERC has taken enforcement action against the Abuja Electricity Distribution Plc for noncompliance with the Supplementary Order to the April 2024 Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) 2024 for AEDC. 

“AEDC has been fined N200,000,000 for failure to comply with the prescribed customer band classifications for the tariff billing,” the commission said.

It added that the decision followed a detailed review and customer feedback, which revealed that AEDC had applied the new tariff to all customer bands, contrary to the order, which was designed to ensure fair billing practices.

Many customers of the Disco had since the increase of premium power consumers’ tariffs from N68 to N225, complained of many infractions, including that those previously in Band ‘B’ were moved to the higher Band ‘A’ without any form of explanation.

Also, some complained that even in the same compound, different flats were having different classifications, an anomaly, while others said that they were being made to vend for N225 (Band ‘A’) when when they rarely have power for half of the approved hours of supply.

But the AEDC on Thursday acknowledged the discrepancies and distortions in billing, blaming ‘system glitches’.

 “This is to inform customers across the AEDC franchise that we are aware of the wrong charges faced by some Band A customers who tried to recharge their meters following the new tariff regime.

“This was due to a system glitch caused by the reclassification of some Band ‘A’ customers who have now been downgraded to Band ‘B’ due to the number of hours of electricity supply enjoyed over the past few weeks. These erstwhile Band A customers who vended were charged the new tariff of N225 per kilowatt hour. 

“Our team is working to identify the customers affected and all excess charges will be refunded.  The situation also saw some Band A customers who are now charged N225 vend at the old rate. Once the glitch is resolved, this category of customers will now recharge their meters at the new rate of N225, which will ensure they enjoy a minimum supply of 20 hours daily. 

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers during this change. We remain committed to improving the power supply to all categories of customers, and we crave your understanding and support as we do this,” the power distribution firm stated.

But not convinced, the industry regulator in the statement, came down hard on AEDC, ordering it to show evidence of compliance to the new directives latest April 12.

“AEDC is therefore mandated to: Reimburse all customers in Bands B, C, D and E respectively that were billed above the allowed customer categories/tariff bands provided in the order. 

“Reimburse through the provision of the balance of customer tokens that the affected customers would be entitled to receive at the applicable rates and all token reimbursements shall be issued to the affected customers by April 11, 2024. 

“Pay the sum of N200,000,000.00 as a fine for the flagrant breach of the commission’s order and file evidence of compliance with the directives with the commission by April 12, 2024,” NERC said.

The commission added that the action underscored its commitment to protecting consumer rights and ensuring equitable practices within Nigeria’s electricity sector.  

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