NERC Orders DISCO To Refund N50m Over-Billing Charges To FCT Consumers
• Says Fixed Charges Global Practice • Agrees With Senate On Abolition Of Bulk Billing
THE Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has ordered Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (DISCO) to refund about N50 million over-charged amount to its various consumers in the Federal Capital Territory.
Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, gave the order in reaction to the query issued to his Commission by the Senate shortly before it embarked on its annual recess.
The Senate had in a motion brought to the floor urged NERC to explain the rationale behind excessive electricity bills, fixed charges as well as bulk metering experienced across the country.
In his response, Amadi further explained that his agency monitored all complaints reported to the DISCOS on monthly basis and has carried out an analysis on them.
“The Commission has recently penalised Abuja Electricity Distribution Company for overbilling its customers and ordered it to refund the over billed amount and apologise to the customers for the wrongful estimation.
“Abuja Electricity Distribution Company has refunded about N32,000 to customers so affected. The refund has ranged between N5,000 and N15,000 per customer, adding up to over N50million”, Amadi stated.
According to him, his Commission had established the forum office comprising representatives of major stakeholders such as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Consumer Protection Council (CPM), the Nigerian Society of Engineers as well as representatives of local Civil Society Organizations.
Members elected their own chairman and carried out hearing complaints from consumers, Amadi said, adding that their decisions, if not appealed against, are enforced by the Commission.
He stated that DISCOS have been mandated to establish functional Customer Complaints Units to receive and resolve all complaints from customers on electricity supply within its area of operation.
According to him, a time line of 15 days had been specified in the regulation for the resolution of complaints by electricity customers after which an appeal could be lodged at the Forum Office. “The Forum Office represents the next level that the electricity customers can seek redress from the non-performance of Discos in resolving their complaints.
“Presently, NERC has established at least one Forum office in all the Discos to act as an appellate body in resolving complaints from electricity customers not satisfactorily resolved by the Customer Complaints of the DISCOS”, Amadi said.
He further revealed that the Commission agreed with the Senate’s position on the need to eliminate the practice of bulk billing of residential customers and replace the practice with individual metering and billing. “It is important to state that the commission had previously abolished bulk billing in its ruling on the VGC CASE NO:NERC/H/03/07 (copy attached). This case was brought by a customer against the VGC Estate Management and the Eko Electricity Distribution Company in 2008.