17 April 2014, Abuja – The Federal Government on Wednesday ordered power distribution companies to monitor, apprehend and detain electricity consumers involved in illegal connection and those who steal power.
It said electricity theft in the country was alarming and was robbing the Discos of huge revenue, a development that was adversely impacting the power sector.
The Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Dr. Sam Amadi, announced the government’s directive at the end of a monthly meeting between the commission and the chief executives of power generating and distribution companies in Abuja.
He said, “There is rampant theft of electricity and we have said that the Discos should aggressively monitor, apprehend and report every customer who tampers with the meter or steals energy at this crucial moment. Such customers will face both criminal and civil sanctions.
“By criminal, I mean that they will be arrested and prosecuted in the court of law. But as a regulator, we have authorised the Discos to disconnect them and to apply punitive sanctions. To reconnect them, they will have to pay about 50 times more than they stole from the network.
“Therefore, we urge citizens and consumers not to steal power because it damages the revenue of the Discos and ultimately puts the nation in more darkness. Already, the law allows us to do so and we have regulations that will empower the Discos to drastically deal with customers who are illegally connected or bypassing their meters.”
On the current gas shortage, which had worsened power supply, Amadi explained that a new technology had been developed to address the problem.
He said, “There was a petition for helping out with the gas crisis. You are aware that the gas crisis has made most of the generation plants unable to generate to capacity because of lack of gas supply.
“Today, we got a technology-based solution to this from one of the companies. Basically, it showed us how we can use compressed gas and through some technology, re-diversify it and use it in the power plants. The attraction is that it will avoid the use of gas pipelines and all the associated risks of vandalism.”
Amadi said the generation companies would take this up with the firm in an attempt to ensure that they got more gas, especially for embedded power generation.
“For as part of dealing with the scarcity in the market, we are focusing on enabling the Discos to procure embedded power. So, the innovation in technology with regard to gas will help both those who are already connected to gas supply in terms of time out, and the new embedded generators, who want to supply quick power to the distribution companies,” the NERC boss added.
Amadi said it was the responsibility of the Discos to meter their customers, adding that in the interim, reckless estimation of consumption must stop immediately.
On the interim rule, he said the commission had done consultations on the amendment and announced to the CEOs that the rule would come into effect, “probably by tomorrow or after the holidays when the commission will need to sign the rule.”
– The Punch