Electricity tariff hike coming up by late October – NERC



*As NBET unveils new PPA template

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

19 September 2015, Abuja – The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has said electricity consumers in the country should expect an increase in their tariffs by the end of October, from the various distribution companies (Discos) operating in Nigeria.

The Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi noted during the Powering Africa Conference, which took place this week, in Abuja, that, “The period for submission of tariff review applications by Discos closed last week, and the review of these applications for possible ratification will be conducted in the next 30 days.”

Amadi said the reason for the expected hike is to ensure cost-reflective tariffs in the Nigerian electricity supply industry, capable of attracting private investments, especially foreign direct investments (FDIs), and to ensure that these investments were bankable.

The Electric Power Sector Reform Act (2005) empowers NERC to review electricity tariffs in favour of Gencos and Discos, if market variables such as gas and its transportation cost, as well as naira to dollar ratio and inflation shift by over 5 percent.

“At present, the changes in these variables against the initial benchmark set in the NESI is 55.5 percent for gas price, 23.9 percent for naira to dollar exchange rate, and 17.9 percent for naira inflation,” the Managing Director of Transcorp Ugheli Genco, Adeoye Fadeyibi said at a Senate power sector probe session last week.

To this end, a 250 cent per mmBtu gas price has been established by Gencos and ratified by NERC. Also, the transportation cost of 80 cents per mmBtu, as against the current 30 cents being used in the NESI, is being considered by NERC for approval by the end of October.

The NERC chairman however warned that a balance needed to be maintained between investments attraction and winning the confidence of consumers.

“Bills will go up, but service quality also has to be ensured. We have to bear that in mind,” Amadi told a gathering of Nigerian power sector operators as well as local and foreign investors, including representatives from Manitoba Hydro International and the Africa Finance Corporation.

An estimated 40 to 50 percent of electricity consumers in Nigeria are not metered. The metering gap creates energy pricing credibility problems between Discos and their customers, as well as between NERC and Discos. This has formed a major source of uncertainty and discouragement for current and prospective investors into the Nigerian power sector.

In response, Rumundaka Wonodi, managing director/CEO, Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) plc, said his agency had developed a bankable power purchase agreement (PPA) template for Gencos and Discos in order to ensure that PPAs were completed within three months and made functional and sustainable over time.

“We now have about 60 projects that we are dealing with. Azura and ExxonMobil took about three years; Century Power took about two and a half years. When they started, they did not have every information needed to sign PPAs for transmission, gas availability, and local force majure in the NESI, so we were discussing and discovering along the line and everybody was getting feedbacks and that took a lot of time,” said Wonodi.

According to him, the standardised power purchase agreement (PPA) format is now on the company’s website so that prospective investors into the sector can review it and know exactly what requirements they have to meet in order to secure their PPAs in shorter time periods.

He also said that due to gas transportation challenges and dollar-naira rate fluctuations militating against market stability in the NESI, the Federal Government was being urged to put up a fund to manage these fluctuations.

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