13 March 2014, Abuja – The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Wednesday stated that it had granted approval to the various electricity distribution companies across the country to disconnect Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government that are indebted to them.
The commission also hinted that it was proactively working to ensure stable improvement in the supply of gas to thermal power plants following the recent meteorological warning that there could be decrease in the amount of rainfalls and water reservoir of hydro generating plants in the country.
NERC said the move was part of efforts to boost revenue generation within the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) which is now managed by private investors.
It also explained that its authorisation of the processes of disconnecting debtor government MDAs was in line with a presidential directive on the issue.
Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, told reporters shortly after the monthly meeting of the commission with chief executive officers (CEOs) of the various distribution, generation and transmission companies in NESI that the move had become necessary following the obvious lackadaisical attitude of most government agencies to the payment of their electricity bills.
Although, he could not provide details of the estimated amount owed by these agencies to the various distribution companies, Amadi however explained that it had become extremely difficult for these government agencies to adapt to the new regime in the electricity industry even with the presidential directive.
“The federal government has already issued a circular in 2012 that every government agency should pay its bills as provided in their budget and the Accountant General is being mandated by that circular to deduct from source if after 90 days that agency has not paid its bill.
“We want to restate that even though the Discos to whom we have communicated the president’s directive that they should provide meters to all government agencies, we also want to restate that because we are in a new market, every agency or customer, be it public or private, will be cut off after due process because we want to make sure that the suppliers of electricity services have enough revenue to continue to supply those services,” he said.
Amadi further said: “We have written to the president to inform all agencies that henceforth, the market has changed and there is a need for them to adapt to this change; it is a change management issue and as such they should put in mechanisms to pay their bills and avoid disconnection.
“So, we want to appeal to consumers, private or public entities to pay their bills on time. Even as we are working hard to ensure that all forms of energy theft and tempering will be punished drastically, we cannot talk about improvement in this sector except we are prepared to play by rules.”
He however hinted that government agencies that provide essential services might not be affected by the directive in view of their importance to the society, adding that places like barracks and others would have to devise means of paying their bills as at when due.
On the commission’s meetings with gas suppliers as regards expected drop in the amount of rainfall, Amadi said: “To ensure that the target of 4,500 megawatts (MW) by June and 6,000MW by December is met, we need to unlock gas supply; there is improvement in generation now compared to two weeks ago when there was much panic.
“And that is why we are also putting pressure on improving gas supply, if the gas plants have enough gas to produce at capacity, we think that with all the water issues, we can pull through but the critical thing is for us to have the capacity to run our gas plants at full capacity with good gas supply.”
“We have decided to have a score card and peer review mechanism, to benchmark them, where we will provide incentive for Gencos and Discos to keep improving. We will criticise what is not being done well and set new targets,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Mr. Mack Karst, has said repair works on its burnt transmission infrastructure in Delta State will take at least six months to be completed.
He however noted that the damaged infrastructure would not affect its transmission obligations, considering the availability of an alternative transmission line for power generated from the Delta axis.