The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has announced the signing into law of a new operational order permitting consumers of electricity services in the country who have experienced 15 days of cumulative interruption of electricity supply within a month to hold back payment of fixed electricity charges to distribution companies, as contained in their bills.
Speaking in Abuja on Friday, Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, disclosed that implementation of the new order is expected to commence immediately beginning from today (Thursday).
However, he stated that certain conditions must be established for the affected consumers to be entitled to withhold such fund.
Part of the conditions that must be met are valid evidence that interruptions in power supply not occasioned by larger industry disturbances such as drop in national power generation capacity, vandalism of strategic national power supply assets like transmission lines, and other general challenges.
But instances of willing cut in power supply as a result of transformer and distribution assets breakdown and a subsequent refusal of distribution networks to fix same will be counted as conditions upon which consumers can base their claims, if it contributed to power supply interruptions for up to 15 days.
Amadi said the new order was intended to get operators of the various distribution networks to become responsive to their responsibilities following complaints of poor service delivery.
The NERC boss disclosed that the energy charge covers actual cost of energy consumed, while the fixed charge covers investments made in permanent power equipment, such as poles, cables and transformers as well as their maintenance cost and the capacity charge paid to the generating companies.
He expressed optimism that the possibility of distribution companies losing the fixed charge component of its electricity bills to consumers at any given month due to their negligence would push them to ensure proactive delivery of services to their customers.
“NERC will continue to defend the fixed charge component of the electricity bill because we believe that it is in line with the right of the people to have sustainable supply of electricity, which is what the fixed charge is meant to improve,” he said.
“NERC will monitor the implementation of the order across board, while instances of default should be reported to electricity forum offices that have been set up by the commission across the distribution zones for enforcement of actions.”