The National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has clarified the terms under which electricity customers can purchase transformers, meters, poles, or any other assets for Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos).
According to the power sector regulator, the consumer must sign an agreement with the DisCos outlining when and how the consumer will be reimbursed for the cost of the transformer or purchased asset.
This was made known in Abuja by NERC’s Commissioner, Consumer Affairs, Aisha Mahmud, at the 3-day NERC/Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) Customer Complaint Resolution Meeting, where she insisted that it was not the responsibility of electricity consumers to buy transformers or any other assets for DisCos.
Mahmud said that the agreement should contain dispute resolution clause and all other items that are expected of a standard agreement.
NERC makes provision under its ‘Investment Regulation’
Mahmud stated, “It is not the responsibility of the consumers to buy meters, poles or any assets for the DisCos because we have already provided for that in the tariff of the utilities.
“But under any circumstances that you have to purchase these item and you cannot wait for the DisCos to make that investment, we have made provision for that under our “Investment Regulation.’’
She said that the commission came up with a regulation called investment in the network and based on that, if a customer has to purchase a transformer, it has to be done through an agreement.
DisCos claim consumer’s investment as donations due to lack of agreement
The NERC Commissioner noted, “The agreement should contain dispute resolution clause and all other items that are expected of a standard agreement.
“What we expect from the DisCo is to use their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to buy those assets or rather use shareholders’ investment or borrow from the banks to purchase those assets
“ In the event that they are not able to buy those assets, customers can come in and they have to be refunded.
“So what the consumers don’t know is that regulation exists and they go about making all sorts of investment which DisCos say is a donation to them because there is no agreement.’’
NERC to enlighten consumers on their rights, obligations
The commissioner said that it was part of NERC’s responsibility to also educate customers on their right and obligation and all they are supposed to know about the electricity market.
She said the commission realised that most consumers in Nigeria did not know about the existence of the regulator, ‘’They don’t know their right, they have a lot of rights that they are not aware of.
“It was our duty to tell them that it is their right to get a meter as Discos are not doing you any favour to issue you a meter.’’
Mahmud said that NERC’s mandate was also to educate the consumers on their responsibilities such as the issue of meter, bypass or tempering with meters.
She said, “They should know that the Discos are just merely collection agents and the revenue they collect is not entirely their own as they have to pay gas suppliers.
“Pay the Transmission Company (TCN) and the generation companies so customers should know that once they touch the utilities they are also sub charging themselves.’’