*NERC imposes N10.5bn fines
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, has imposed a N10.5 billion fine on electricity distribution companies, DisCos, for over billion customers without meters to the tune of 105.05 billion in the first nine months of 2023.
The Commission in separate Orders issued to the DisCos on Friday said the utilities were in breach of an Order it issued in 2020 on capping of electricity billed to unmetered customers by the DisCos.
A selected check on the orders showed that Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, AEDC, over-billed its customers without meters to the tune of N17.874 billion while Eko Distribution Company, EKEDC, over-billed its unmetered customers by N13.137 billion.
Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHEDC, over-billed its customers without meter by N14.187 billion with Kaduna Electric over-billing its customers by N1.145 billion.
NERC ordered the DisCos to refund the cheated customers in full and to ensure compliance in the future. To deter future occurrence, it imposed a 10 percent fine on the utilities.
The Commission explained that “The public may recall that in 2020, the Commission issued the Order on Capping of Estimated Bills (Order No: NERC/197/2020) and subsequently issued monthly energy caps which aimed to align the estimated bills for unmetered customers with the measured consumption of metered customers on the same supply feeder.
“A review of the Electricity Distribution Companies billing of unmetered customers for 2023 has revealed non-compliance with the monthly energy caps issued by the Commission.
“In response to this and in a bid to safeguard unmetered customers from arbitrary billing by DisCos, the Commission, pursuant to Section 34(1)(d) of the Electricity Act 2023 (“EA 2023”), has issued the Order on Non-Compliance with Capping of Estimated Bills (Order No: NERC/2024/004-014) which stipulates the following: “Credit Adjustment to Customers: DisCos are to issue credit adjustments to all overbilled unmetered customers for the period January to September 2023 by the March 2024 billing cycle.
“Public Notice: DisCos have been directed to publish the list of credit adjustment beneficiaries in two national dailies and on their website no later than 31st March 2024.
“Regulatory Sanctions: The Commission shall deduct a sum of N10,505,286,072 from the annual allowed revenues of the eleven (11) DisCos during the next tariff review, to deter future non-compliance with the energy caps approved by the Commission”.
Specifically, for Eko DisCo, the Commission said: “To forestall further non-compliance, a deduction of N1,413,766,176 which is equivalent to 10% of the Naira value of the total over-billing for the period January – September 2023 shall be applied to EKEDC’s annual OpEx over a rolling 12-month period during the next tariff review.
“Notwithstanding the provisions of section (11B)(i), and pursuant to the provision of section 34(2)(f) of the EA 2023, the Commission may deduct a greater percentage of the total over-billing from EKEDC’s admin OPEX where a non-compliance with capping Orders persists”.