By Danladi Al-Hassan
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has asked customers to report any distribution company (DisCo) that forces them to buy electricity equipment.
Usman Abba-Arabi, NERC’S General Manager , Public Affairs, who in a statement accused the DisCos of forcing customers to pay for the equipment as a condition for getting electricity supply, said if the customers are going to pay for the equipment, there should be an agreement with the DisCos on how the cost will be recovered.
“The attention of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission NERC has been drawn to the ongoing practice of some electricity distribution companies forcing customers to invest in the replacement of distribution infrastructure such as transformers, cables, etc as a condition for the restoration of electricity supply,” the commission said.
“The Commission had earlier issued a “Regulation for Investment in Electricity Networks” whereby customers desirous of intervening in the restoration of power supply may invest in the provision of materials and installation.
“The regulation provides that such an arrangement must always be on the basis of an executed “Project Agreement” between the customers and distribution company in which the costs and the mechanism for recovery of the investment are mutually agreed between the parties.
“In this regard, customers are hereby requested to report any electricity distribution company that has engaged in the practice of forcing customers to supply materials and/or installation as a precondition for providing or restoring electricity supply.
“The attention of the Commission has also been drawn to the current practice of some electricity distribution companies embarking on the removal of meters from customer premises purportedly on the regulator’s directive that all meters that have been in use for more than 10 years should be phased out.
“The Commission has issued no such directive to the licensees and no metered customer should be transferred to “estimated billing” on the premise that meters in use for more than 10 years are dysfunctional.”
NERC also criticised the policy by DisCos that customers must pay all outstanding electricity debts as precondition for the acquisition of electricity meters under the Meter Asset Provider Regulation (MAPs).