FG intervenes to stop DISCOs exploitation of electricity consumers

  • Orders NERC to compel distribution companies to end estimated billing

The exploitation of electricity consumers by the various DISCOs in Nigeria has come under the focus of the Federal Government which is now seeking ways to end the undue defrauding of Nigerians by electricity providers who compel customers to pay for services not delivered through estimated billing.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Power sent a directive to the Nigerian Electricity Regularly Commission (NERC) to enforce the contract mandating power distribution companies to provide meters to customers and eliminate estimated electricity bills in the power sector.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had told the Chairman of NERC, Prof James Momoh, compel the Discos and MAPs provide meters.

The federal government remarked that the directive to NERC was in response of the numerous complaints and protests from power consumers over estimated bills by marketing managers of the electricity providing companies who rely on non-availability meters to carry out their nefarious and inhuman exploitation of Nigerian citizens and the business community, which the Discos have the mandate to supply. The DISCOs enforce coercive exploitation of electricity users through mass disconnection or prolonged blackout yet compel customers to pay even for the period they suffered disconnection. The federal government has intervened that the exploitation and monopoly of DISCOs must not be allowed to continue.

National Daily gathered that the Power Minister identified various sections of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 at a press conference in Abuja, which are not applicable to the practice of the electricity companies. He pointed out that the time has come of government intervention to end the excesses of the power distribution companies.

Fashola had declared: “Government must act and will do so. The Discos bought these power assets with their eyes opened, and they must compete to deliver or exit.

“It is not my intention, or that of the government, to take over the business of the Discos. On the contrary, it is the government’s desire to see the Discos thrive in a competitive environment.

“In the period when they are not yet ready, willing, or able, life must go on and we must find solutions and substitutes as we have seen in other sectors.

“NERC should enforce the contract of the Discos to supply meters and act to ensure the urgent and speedy supply and installation of meters with a view to eliminating estimated billing and promote efficient industry and market structures.

“NERC should stop the Discos from threatening private entrepreneurs from entering the market to supply consumers, whom the Discos cannot supply, and to license such persons subject to terms and conditions in order to promote competition and private sector participation, and avoid a private monopoly of power.

“Clearly, unless the Discos have a licence that is endorsed as exclusive, it is clear that no Disco has exclusivity over its franchise area.

“It is obvious that the law did not intend to replace government monopoly of the PHCN in the power sector with a private monopoly of businessmen.

“If we take into consideration that after five years of privatisation, there are still people and businesses who do not have power or enough power, common sense and public interest demand that we must not resist ordinary people, small businesses like shops and markets from seeking alternative sources of energy.

“If the Discos are not resisting the generator sellers, who are contributing to pollution, what is the logic of resisting small entrepreneurs bringing mini-gas plants to supply a market need?”