NERC sanctions Abuja Disco over estimated billings
• Demands apology for affected consumers
THE Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) yesterday came down hard on the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (Abuja Disco) by imposing sanctions on it.
The NERC also ordered the firm to immediately refund consumers monies said to have been overbilled. This, officials said, is one in the series of sanctions to any disco that ignores the approved methodology for estimated billing of electricity consumers.
The Commission said that the sanction followed the conclusion of investigation of misdemeanour levelled against the electricity firm.
The affected consumers are to be refunded through energy credit of all excess charges that they were billed.
The action followed NERC’s Notice of Enforcement and subsequent investigation of instances of overbilling perpetrated by the electricity distribution company.
In an Order No. NERC/139, which copy was obtained in Abuja, the regulator noted: “AEDC shall with immediate effect from the date of this order commence refund through energy credit of all excess charges billed its customers as a direct consequence of the adjustments.”
Abuja Disco was also ordered to, within five days, notify the affected customers of the overbilling in writing in line with Regulation 9 (7) of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission’s Meter Reading, Billing, Cash Collections and Credit Management for Electricity Suppliers Regulation 2007.
AEDC is also expected to take up spaces in a national newspaper and tender an apology to affected customers stating their business units and the amount of excess charges billed them during the period under review.
The company is expected to report back within two months beginning from June 15, 2015 to the Commission over its compliance with the sanctions meted on it.
The NERC said AEDC was investigated for arbitrary imposition of random figures on clusters of its customers ranging from 18 to 28 per cent between October and December 2014 and in some cases, 1,100 per cent increase, which resulted in spike in customers’ bills as against the provisions of the Methodology for Estimated Billing Regulations 2012.
The electricity distribution company was said to have tripled its customers bills issued in September 2014 and issued it as bills for October 2014 without evidence of a commensurate increase in electricity supply within the same period.
According to the notice, AEDC failed to forward report of the estimated billings it issued in every billing circle as provided under Section 9 of the Methodology for Estimated Billing Regulation 2012 in the format prescribed by the regulation.
Following AEDC’s failure to comply with NERC regulation over its continued issuance of “outrageous and unusually very high bills” to its customers and for not complying with stipulated format in its presentation to the Commission, the company was then given seven days to explain itself if it will escape sanctions.
The AEDC had in April requested the NERC to give it more time to respond to a query it was issued on its alleged disregard to standing rules on estimated billing.
Abuja Disco asked for extension on the grounds that it needs more time to prepare its response and defence. The request for extension was dated April 17, 2015.
The Commission had granted the request and gave the firm till May 6, 2015.