Distribution companies in Nigeria have been urged to restructure their fixed charges and re-examine bulk metering practices, in order to ensure that Nigerians’ only pay for electricity they have actually consumed.
Nigeria’s senate directed the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to look into complaints over ‘indiscriminate billing’ according to a report in The News.
Following a motion by two senators, entitled: “Unfair trade practices of Electricity Distribution Companies in Nigeria,” NERC was ordered to look into issues such as fixed charges and bulk metering and have directed NERC to “immediately abolish fixed charges on electricity consumption, [and] bulk metering of villages and communities.”
NERC reported back to the Senate that it had asked the distribution companies to find a way to restructure the fixed charge, although it highlighted in its response that fixed charges were not illegal.
“In recognition of the negative impact of the fixed charge, the commission has held several public consultations to ascertain a measure that will guarantee financial viability in the industry and not expose consumers to paying for electricity not consumed,” NERC said in its report.
“This remodeling of the fixed charge will be part of the ongoing tariff review process being conducted by the distribution companies.
NERC boss calls for elimination of bulk metering
Amadi said further: “The Commission agrees with the Senate’s position on the need to eliminate the practice of bulk billing residential customers and replace the practice with individual metering and billing.
In a previous case brought before the Commission, the commission ruled that customers should be metered individually, although the Commission has provided some leeway for estimation where residential customers are not provided with meters.
“Communities who are placed on bulk [metering] should reject it and insist on individual metering. The Commission is in the process of completing public consultation on a proposal to cap the amount an unmetered customer can pay until he or she is metered,” Dr Amadi stated.
He further stated that: “The proposal will also commit distribution companies to strict deadline for metering of all its customers. In the interim, the Commission has abolished connection of new customers without meters.”