Electricity Tariff: 60-day appeal window, unused opportunity, says NERC

16 February 2016, Lagos – The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has said that the decision of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its affiliate member unions to take to the street last week in protest of the new electricity rates it approved for the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) in the country was unnecessary.

Power.electricityNERC noted that by that act, the NLC and its affiliates might have misled Nigerians into believing that it is a partial regulator. It explained that as part of its impartial role in the sector, it had included in the tariff implementation process, a 60-day window for aggrieved parties to make complaints to it against the tariff.

The commission stated that this appeal window has been ignored by the NLC and indeed Nigerians, adding that it could become an unused opportunity if no one takes advantage of it. The Commission said that it is open to take in such appeals from any relevant party.

“We had expected that organisations such as the labour union would take advantage of the 60 days window available to anybody to contest the tariff before heading into the streets in protest.

“Anyhow, they have exercised their democratic rights but we also feel that they have not exhausted an already existing democratic measure to ask for any redress in the new tariff,” said the acting head of NERC, Dr. Anthony Akah.

Akah told THISDAY that the commission was quite disappointed with the choice of the country’s organised labour to mobilise Nigerians against the tariff when it had ignored repeated calls to participate in consultations leading to its design.

“The protest in our view when they have not taken advantage of the 60 days window was totally unnecessary because they will just heighten the uncertainty that we are trying to minimise in the sector because we are also exposed to foreign financial investments in the sector,” added Akah.

He further said: “They should have also been mindful of the fact that this is before a competent court of jurisdiction and restrained from such acts. They would have exhausted the democratic opportunity in the tariff.”
NERC explained that the 60 days appeal window started from February 1 when the rates were approved for the Discos.

According to it, the process that resulted in the addition of the window was done in line with the dictates of the Electric   Power   Sector   Reform   (EPSR)   Act   2005, which gives the exercise the required legal credence.

On the issue of an existing court injunction, NERC said that it will not contravene any court order and would allow the court to do its duty of determining the matter before it.
It explained in this regard that it has since filed all necessary papers before the court in response to all the court cases, adding that it is dedicated to ensuring that its regulation of the sector is fair and balanced for consumers, investors and all stakeholders.

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