FCCPC lauds NERC for fines against DisCo

. Demands action to protect electricity consumers

By Stanley Onyeka, Lagos

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), has commended the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), for its recent enforcement action taken against the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), for violating the Supplementary Order to the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) 2024.

NERC had mandated for AEDC to reimburse all customers in Bands B, C, D, and E who were billed above the allowed tariff bands and to pay a fine of ₦200 million.

The FCCPC, in a statement by Ag. Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Adamu Abdullahi, said such an action represents a crucial step towards upholding consumer rights and ensuring fairness within Nigeria’s electricity industry.

The Commission also urged more robust and vigilant enforcement like this, as well as greater transparency in billing and power supply, as a balance to the recently increased tariff for B and A customers. 

The statement reads further: “NERC’s decision to penalise AEDC reinforces FCCPC’s strong advocacy for protecting consumers from unfair market practices, as mandated by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) 2018.

Many consumers have expressed fear that the likelihood of arbitrary estimated billing for unmetered B and A customers could lead to consumer abuse and dissatisfaction.

“Notably, this action was taken within 48 hours of the introduction of a new tariff regime for B and A customers.

“While NERC approved the tariff realignment and Service Delivery Commitments for B and A electricity customers to ensure the sustainability and viability of Distribution Companies (DisCos) and the entire electricity sector, we acknowledge the legitimate concerns raised by consumers.

“Many consumers have expressed fear that the likelihood of arbitrary estimated billing for unmetered B and A customers could lead to consumer abuse and dissatisfaction.

“DisCos’ repeated failure to meet the minimum power supply hours for respective tariff bands and their failure over time to compensate consumers for service downtime have made consumer grievances worse.

“To address these concerns and promote consumer welfare under the current service reflective tariff regime, FCCPC encourages NERC to mandate DisCos to meter all unmetered B and A customers within 60 days, thus ensuring accurate billing and protecting consumers from arbitrary estimations.

“In addition, we urge NERC to vigorously enforce the cap on estimated bills and ensure compliance with the required daily supply for respective tariff bands (A to E), thereby promoting fairness in billing practices.”

The FCCPC also expressed pleasure with the NERC’s recent order to DisCos to automatically downgrade any B and A feeder that does not enjoy the minimum requirement of 20 hours per day power supply for seven consecutive days.

It continued: “While the Commission will closely monitor the implementation of this directive by all parties, in line with extant laws and an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NERC, we urge NERC to diligently enforce the proposed measures and collaborate with stakeholders to address consumer concerns, in order to foster a sustainable and consumer-friendly electricity market.

“It is the Commission’s view that unless a consumer on B and B, C, D, or E is metered, the DisCo should not be allowed to migrate such a consumer to a higher tariff band to avoid any form of exploitation. This will also serve as an incentive for DisCos to meter consumers.”

It equally expressed the confidence that “NERC will persist in imposing appropriate penalties on DisCos for violations, which will promote compliance and accountability in the electricity industry.

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