The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission bans electricity distribution companies from mass disconnection of power over non-payment of tariffs

Following threat by the electricity distribution companies (Discos) to disconnect heavy debtors in the country, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has announced an outright ban on the mass disconnection of electricity consumers by the Discos across the country.
NERC stated that its attention had been drawn to incidents of mass disconnection of electricity supply to communities, villages, local government areas and estates by the distribution companies on the excuse of non-payment of electricity bills. “Please note that the Commission has developed procedures for disconnection of defaulting customers as contained in the regulation on connection and disconnection of electricity services. The commission has also banned mass disconnection of electricity customers.

“Therefore, any community, village, local government area or estate wrongfully disconnected from electricity supply should report to the commission for its further action. Consequently, electricity disconnection by the Discos is strictly to be effected in accordance with the provision of sections 5-11 of the commission’s Connection and Disconnection Procedures for Electricity Services Regulation,” NERC stated.

In May, the Discos had commenced what they described as the mass disconnection of chronic debtors, who allegedly owed them N94 billion. Sunday Oduntan, executive director, Association of Nigeria Electricity Distributors (ANED) who confirmed the mass disconnection exercise, stressed that the Discos published advertisements in all major newspapers asking the chronic debtors to pay up within 10 days.

Oduntan had argued that his member-companies had to carry out its threat when it became obvious that there was nothing on the table. “Although we appreciate the efforts of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, the stark reality is that there is nothing concrete to hold on to. There is no provision for MDAs’ debts to Discos in the budget, even though we started discussions before the budget was passed. The indebtedness has become so huge that we are truly troubled about how the government would resolve this without a budgetary allocation,” he said.

The body had revealed that government establishments, including the military and security agencies alone, owed the Discos some N93 billion. The figure, it said, comprised N39.1 billion pre-privatisation of electricity assets and N39.5 post-privatisations. Also thrown into the debt calculation is the outstanding interest of N15 billion, which the Bulk Trader charges Discos for late payment of their electricity bills, which was worsened by the non-settlement of electricity bills by consumers as and when due.

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