FCCPC to NERC: Mandate DisCos to meter all Band A customers in 60 days

THE Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has advised the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to mandate distribution companies (DisCos) to meter all unmetered Band A customers within 60 days.

It said doing so would ensure accurate billing and protect consumers from arbitrary estimations.

It also requested that NERC vigorously enforce the cap on estimated bills and ensure compliance with the required daily supply for respective tariff bands (A to E), thereby promoting fairness in billing practices.

The FCCPC also backed NERC’s recent Order to DisCos to automatically downgrade any Band A feeder that does not enjoy the minimum requirement of a 20-hour-per-day power supply for seven consecutive days.

The organisation stated these in reaction to NERC’s recent electricity tariff for Band A customers, who are expected to enjoy a power supply for a minimum of 20 hours per day as they now pay the new rate of N225/kWh, up from N68/KWh they previous paid.

The agency also warned the distribution companies (DisCos) against overbilling customers who were not categorised as Band A.

It applauded NERC for punishing the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company(AEDC) for overbilling customers not categorised in Band A shortly after announcing the new tariff.


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The ICIR reports that the penalty includes a mandate for AEDC to reimburse all customers in Bands B, C, D, and E billed above the allowed tariff bands and to pay a fine of ₦200 million.           

The punishments were contained in a statement released by the Executive Vice Chairman of FCCPC, Adamu Abdullahi, on Sunday, April 7.

Abdullahi, who described the move as a crucial step towards upholding consumer rights and ensuring fairness within Nigeria’s electricity industry, tasked NERC to ensure billing and power supply transparency to balance the increased tariff for Band A customers.

“NERC’s decision to penalise AEDC reinforces FCCPC’s strong advocacy for protecting consumers from unfair market practices, as mandated by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) 2018. Notably, this action was taken within 48 hours of the introduction of a new tariff regime for Band A customers.




     

     

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    “While NERC approved the tariff realignment and service delivery commitments for Band A electricity customers to ensure the sustainability and viability of Distribution Companies (DisCos) and the entire electricity sector, we acknowledge the legitimate concerns raised by consumers. Many consumers have expressed fear that the likelihood of arbitrary estimated billing for unmetered Band A customers could lead to consumer abuse and dissatisfaction.”

    He said DisCos’ repeated failure to meet the minimum power supply hours for respective tariff bands and their failure to compensate consumers for service downtime over time had worsened consumer grievances.

    The FCCPC said it would closely monitor the implementation of the directive by all parties, in line with extant laws and an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NERC.

    It urged NERC to diligently enforce the proposed measures and collaborate with stakeholders to address consumer concerns to foster a sustainable and consumer-friendly electricity market.

    Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in society. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.

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