The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on Wednesday in Abuja directed electricity Distribution Companies to stop collecting the N750 monthly fixed charge in any area without power supply for 15 days in the month.
The fixed charge is an element of an electricity customer’s monthly bill to enable the Discos to maintain and recover costs on permanent investments, such transformers, cables and poles.
The NERC Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi, who announced the decision at a news conference, said the order would be effective from May 1.
Amadi said that the commission took the decision based on consideration of complaints and agitations from customers and in line with its role in the electricity industry as provided by an Act of 2005.
He said: “It is hereby ordered that effective from May 1, 2014, where any customer of a distribution licencee has not received continuous electricity supply for a period of 15 days in a month, such customer shall not be required to pay the fixed charge.
“This is provided that the disruption is not due to non-payment of electricity bills or other actions of the consumer such as tampering, vandalism or totally unrelated to the fault of the distribution company.”
Amadi explained that the 15 days without electricity could either be continuous or cumulatively during the month.
Amadi urged customers to write a formal complaint to respective electricity distribution companies to address the situation “or report to dispute fora in each state for any breach of the order”.
He, however, said NERC would not scrap the fixed charge but would continue to review it in line with the demands of the electricity market and international best practice.
Amadi said the new order would ensure that the Discos were more responsive so that operational issues under their jurisdictions such as faulty transformers and cables were promptly replaced for customers’ usage.
He also urged customers not to be hostile to the companies’ officials when they come to effect repairs in their areas as that could attract sanctions.
There have been complaints and protests by electricity consumers across the country on the payment of the fixed charge even when they do not get supplies.