Crazy billing: NERC to resolve complaints over electricity tariff explosion

*Electric-meters.

*Electric-meters.

…Begs Nigerians over blackouts

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

07 April 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Even as electricity consumers are lamenting the huge electricity bills arising from the recently-announced increase in tariffs, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, on Wednesday asked consumers whose Distribution companies (Discos) over-billed them through estimated bills to complain with valid documents to its office.

Dr Anthony Akah, Acting Chairman of NERC, made the appeal when the President of Nigeria Association for Energy Economics (NAEE), Prof. Wumi Iledare, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja

He said, “NERC is mindful of Nigerians, especially the un-metered customers, over the vexing issue of alleged wrongful billing or crazy estimated billing to customers.

“To that extent as a regulator, we have set up all necessary regulatory mechanisms, including monitoring, asking Nigerians to submit such complaints with evidence to our various offices.’’

According to him, the commission has recently come out with jingles and news publications in the newspapers to sensitise consumers to the issue of over-billing by DISCOS.

“It is totally unacceptable for any electricity distribution company to estimate any unmetered customer without strict adherence to NERC regulations on estimated billing.’’

He said that the act of crazy billing of consumers was because the metering gap was much, adding that GENCOS, DISCOS and TCN went through privatisation uninformed roughly about 30 months ago.

Akah advised customers who volunteered to buy their own meters through Credit Advancement Metering Payment Implementation (CAMPI) that NERC had issued a directive that DISCOS must meter them within 60 days.

He explained that before the privatisation, the sector was in a very bad shape, noting that the networks were totally dilapidated and even investment in the sector was insignificant.

He added that where the DISCOS did not give consumers meters within 60 days, DISCOS could not estimate their bills or disconnect them.

The acting chairman said that it was the mandate of NERC to protect its consumers interest and at the same time, provide a conducive environment for the investors.

He explained that NERC had gone further to partner Consumer Protection Council because of its nationwide platform to deal with issues on consumer complaints and this would strengthen NERC’s mechanism to protect consumers.

He appealed to everybody not to vandalise the pipelines because the act would affect everybody in the country, adding that the decline in power generation was due to vandalism.

Akah explained that the gas supply issue was being taken care of, also vandalised pipelines were rapidly being repaired, adding that there was hope that Nigeria would soon start having incremental power.

The NERC boss further begged Nigerians to exercise patience with the power generation and distribution companies with respect to the drop in electricity supply and the attendant blackouts being experienced nationwide.

According to NERC, the drop in the power supply is due to vandalism of critical installations and heavy downpour witnessed in parts of the country recently, adding that the Federal Government was working hard to repair the vandalised gas pipelines.

The commission was, however, not specific as to when power generation and its supply would improve, but was quick to state that there was hope of a tangible increase in electricity generation.

The country’s electricity woes worsened on Tuesday as two additional power generating plants were shut down, bringing the total number of plants not generating any megawatts of electricity to 10.

The two shut plants are Shiroro Power Station in Niger State and Sapele II in Delta State.

In his response to a question on the fall in power generation, Akah said, “On the decline in power, as you may know, part of the reasons have to do with the issue of pipeline vandalism and the heavy downpour that happened in the past.

Iledare said the association came to partner NERC to ensure that there was adequate and reliable power supply to Nigerians.

He assured the commission that the association was prepared to assist NERC in all aspects of energy economics to move the country forward.

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