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Reps want punishment for DisCos over poor electricity supply

THE House of Representatives has urged the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to compel Distribution Companies (DisCos) to discontinue the alleged extortive practice of estimated/arbitrary billing with immediate effect.

The legislators recommended that the companies be reprimanded for the abysmal provisioning of services to Nigerian electricity consumers.

The resolution was sequel to a unanimous adoption of a motion by Rep. Afuape Moruf  (APC-Ogun) at plenary on Tuesday.

Moving the motion earlier, Moruf said that the Electricity Act, of 2023, prescribed a comprehensive and institutional framework to guide the operation of a privatized, contract, and rule-based electricity market.

The Rep said it was within the ambit of which every participant in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) must operate.

He said the NERC as the NESI regulator, had among other obligations to ensure adequate supply of electricity to consumers.

According to him, it is expected to ensure that prices charged are fair to consumers, though sufficient to allow the finances of Disco’s activities, as well as enable them to make a reasonable profit for efficient operation.

Moruf said that 11 Electricity DisCos were entities established by the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, of 2005, to supply electricity to power consumers with obligations to the respective operational areas.

He said the companies had the statutory duties to provide for power transmission facilities and other ancillary services to ensure reliability and support the transmission of electricity from generation sites to consumers.

“Concerned that the distribution companies raked in a whooping N247.33 billion in the first quarter of 2023 as against N232.32 billion generated in the fourth quarter of 2022, representing a rise by 20.81 percent compared to N204.74 billion generated first Quarter of 2022 (year-on-year consideration)

“Whereas, electricity supply declined from 5,956 (Gwh) in the first Quarter of 2022 to 5,852 (Gwh) first Quarter of 2023 (year-on-year consideration), despite the increase in earnings.

“Concerned that the distribution companies have demonstrated unfaithfulness toward the social contract with Nigerians, as enshrined and enhanced by the transitional effect of the Electric Power Reform Act, 2005 to the Electricity Act, 2023, having been inefficient in their services.

“They have condemnable attitudes toward expected investments, abdicating their statutory responsibilities for communities, private and other public entities, despite their humongous earnings, as extracted from the Q1 2023 report of the National Bureau of Statistics on a performance review of the 11 distribution companies,” he said.

He expressed worry that the NERC had watched helplessly while communities, individuals, and corporate organizations assumed the responsibilities of providing electricity transmission facilities (meters, cables, and transformers) where they were either not available or repaired, where the same was faulty.

The house urged the NERC to put in place an effective metering plan, which assured consumers of fair billing.

The lawmaker tasked NERC to invoke relevant provisions of the law and other extant agreements to penalize DisCos from exploiting and abusing the rights of consumers.

The green chamber charged NERC to evolve a methodology along with the distribution companies to compensate communities, individuals, and other private and public entities for their investments in the distribution network.

In his ruling, the Speaker, Rep. Tajudeen Abbas mandated the Committee on Power when constituted,  to interface with the NERC and the distribution companies (DisCos) to work and resolve limitations to provide excellent service delivery to Nigerians.

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