A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

Power: NERC to punish Abuja Disco for fleecing consumers

17 April 2015, Lagos – For allegedly abusing the statutory methodology approved for billing customers under the estimated billing system, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has served the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) with a notice of enforcement action against it.

Power2NERC Thursday issued to AEDC the notice of enforcement action, describing AEDC’s offence against its customers as ‘manifest and flagrant breaches’ of approved methodology for estimated billing of electricity consumers.

Through the 2013 electricity privatisation process, AEDC has the franchise for the distribution and sale of electricity to customers, across an area of 133,000 square kilometres, covering Kogi, Niger, Nasarrawa States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

In the notice which copies were obtained from NERC in Abuja, the commission directed AEDC to explain within seven days why an, “enforcement action should not be taken against you and sanctions meted accordingly for non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the licence granted you, the Methodology for Estimated Billing 2012 and directives to submit a comprehensive data used for the billing of unmetered customers” for the period under review.

NERC noted that the notice is a follow up action to its previous investigations and forensic observations of electricity distribution companies’ operations through which unusual increases in estimated billings of electricity consumers were observed within the last quarter of 2014.

According to it, AEDC and some other distribution companies were subsequently invited to explain the unusual increase in estimated billings, but AEDC failed to show some good faith in NERC’s request for it report of estimated bills it issued in every billing cycle as: “AEDC imposed arbitrary and random figures on clusters of their customers ranging from 18 to 28 per cent between October and December 2014 and in some cases 1,100 per cent increase, which resulted in an unusual increase in customers’ bills as against the provisions of the Methodology for Estimated Billing Regulations 2012,” the notice stated.

It further explained that besides, “AEDC tripled its customers’ bills issued in September 2014 and issued it as bills for October 2014, without evidence of a commensurate increase in electricity supply within the same period.”

The company, according to the notice, also failed to forward report of estimated bills it issued in every billing cycle as provided under Section 9 of the Methodology for Estimated Billing Regulation 2012, in the format prescribed by the regulation.

It added that following AEDC’s failure to comply with NERC regulation over its continued issuance of ‘outrageous and unusually very high bills’ to its customers and for not complying with stipulated format in its presentation to NERC, the company has the next seven days to explain itself and if it will escape sanctions.

In line with extant provisions, sanctions imposable for violation of licencing condition ranges from financial imposition, energy refund to customers or discipline of responsible senior management staff of erring electricity companies as may be decided by NERC.

Meanwhile, the three-man administrative panel of NERC that is entertaining a case of an alleged unlawful electricity trading and financial scam perpetrated in a Lagos high-rise estate, the 1004 Housing Estate, Victoria Island, has ruled to have new witnesses join in the case.

The panel consisting of NERC’s Vice Chairman, Muhammed Bello; Commissioner Legal, Licencing and Enforcement, Dr. Steven Adzenge and Commissioner for FINANCE, Mary Awolokun, ruled that the application for new witnesses to join in the case will be granted and the matter heard on its merit.
At the resumed hearing, they granted to residents of the estate who have applied to be joined in the case, their request and disclosed that speedy and comprehensive hearing on the matter will commence at a yet to be adopted DATE.
Samuel Aremu, a resident of the 1004 Estate, had dragged 1004 Estates Limited and Samuel Ukpong to the NERC panel, alleging that they had in breach of Section of 63(1) and (5) of the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act 2005, engaged in illegal trading in electricity in the estate and for which residents in the estate are fraudulently charged by them.

Aremu averred that the parties had no licence from NERC to generate or transmit electricity in the estate, thus opposing the jurisdictional responsibility of Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) which has the franchise to procure and sell electricity within the area.

– This Day

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