By Bashir Olanrewaju
Regulator Says New Power Connections Must be Metered
All new electricity connections in Nigeria must have meters, the National Electricity Regulatory Commission said in a directive aimed at curbing the controversial estimated billing practice favoured by distribution companies.
“That is, no new customer should be connected by a DisCo without a meter first being installed at the premises,” the Nigerisn Electricity Regulatory Commission emphasized on Wednesday in a statement on Twitter.
The agency also weighed in on the side of the consumer, enumerating rights that the electricity distribution companies are obliged to uphold.
“Any un-metered customer who is disputing his or her estimated bill has the right not to pay the disputed bill, but pay only the last undisputed bill,” the NERC said, adding that disputed bills will be subjected to its resolution process.
The regulator also reiterated that it “is not the responsibility of electricity customer or community to buy, replace or repair electricity transformers, poles and related equipment used in the supply of electricity.” Electricity users must also be informed in writing before any disconnections, it said.
Nigeria’s former government-owned power monopoly was broken up and sold as 11 distribution companies and six power generators in a bid to end decades of inefficiency and power cuts.
With the privatization, power supply has barely improved and there has been widespread consumer outcry about electricity companies preferring issuing estimated bills, considered outrageous by users, instead of installing meters to record actual usage.
“It is the customer’s right to contest any electricity bill,” NERC said.