Over-billing: Abuja disco begins refunding customers



Oscarline Onwuemenyi

03 October 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has announced that it has complied with a Federal Government’s directive to refund money to its consumers in the Federal Capital Territory for over-billing them.

The Managing Director of AEDC, Mr Neil Croucher, who stated this in an interview in Abuja, however, could not immediately tell how much had been refunded so far or the number of customers affected, said the process was ongoing.

The Chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr Sam Amadi, had recently told the Senate Committee on Power that the commission ordered the refund after series of complaints from AEDC customers.

According to Croucher, the issue of over-billing was a legacy problem, which the company was currently working hard to address.

He noted that, “On the issue of bills not reflecting the amount of electricity consumed or customers pay and is not reflecting, this is one of the problems we inherited with the old billing system.

“That is why we have spent a lot of time and money in installing a new billing system that is centralised. It will soon be a thing of the past.

“But if any customer has a complaint he can come to us. We have teams in the field that will go and investigate.

“If in that process we identify that we have been over-charging, we will correct it,” he said.

The AEDC boss said in the course of the ongoing adjustments in the company’s billing system, many customers had also been found to be undercharged.

He cited the case of a customer who was being billed for 60 kilowatts per hour when he was actually consuming 100 kilowatts per hour.

He said all the anomalies were being corrected in the ongoing clean up of the company’s customer data base.

Croucher said the issue of communities providing transformers and other power distribution facilities was abnormal, adding that it was part of the under-investment problems in the sector.

“In a normal situation it should not be so, but we have not normalised the sector. I have told you about the decades of under-investment in the sector.

“Now, the country is able to generate only about 4,000MW for over 140 million people. To get to a point where all these communities are electrified will cost billions of dollars.

“Clearly, that can’t come overnight. In the short-term, we welcome communities who are prepared to assist then we can get that infrastructure in quicker than we might otherwise be able to do.

“I think it is a valid point about the need to compensate communities who make a direct contribution, and we should look at how to address such circumstances.”

The managing director also said that distribution accounted for only 25 per cent of the cost of electricity used by customers.

According to him, the balance of 75 per is from generation, transmission and regulation.

“We must recognise that 75 per cent of the cost of every kilowatt of electricity has nothing do with the distribution bill; it’s from generation and transmission.

“So, we only deal at that 25 per cent level, and if customers make a contribution towards that very last mile it is only a fraction of the overall cost of electricity they consume,” he added.

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