The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has ignored the advice of the House of Representatives by insisting that the new electricity tariffs will come into effect from February 1, 2016.
It also announced that the power distribution companies had one year from now to provide meters for all their customers and stop issuing estimated bills.
On December 21 last year, the commission announced new tariffs payable by electricity consumers, indicating increase in charges for different categories of consumers and also abolished the fixed charges.
It explained that the new electricity rates and its directive on fixed charges would take effect from the next billing period, which is from February 1, this year.
But the House of Representatives had resolved that NERC should not embark on any upward review of the tariffs until it had concluded the probe of the power sector, particularly the privatisation programme.
However, the regulatory agency ignored the House resolution and went ahead to increase the tariffs by over 45 per cent.
Despite the fact that it currently has no commissioner nor chief executive, NERC, in its statement on Wednesday, said, “We wish to reiterate that the take-off date of the new electricity tariff (MYTO 2015) still remains February 1, 2016, and it is in view of this that the commission has told the distribution companies to abide by its directive not to connect new customers without first providing them meters.
“We wish to state that at no time did the commission change the date of the take-off of the new tariff.”
The acting Head of the commission Dr. Anthony Akah, said the removal of fixed charges under the new tariff regime “was in response to electricity consumers’ complaints and a measure to ensure that electricity distribution companies improve on service delivery as their income is dependent on the quantity of electricity used by their customers.”
On the probe by the National Assembly, Akah said the commission would continue to engage with stakeholders, including the lawmakers, to address their concerns on the new tariff regime.
He was quoted as saying, “NERC holds the National Assembly in high esteem and we are sure that both institutions are working to ensure that the national and consumer interests are protected.”
The acting head explained that there were inbuilt consumer protection mechanisms and incentives for improved service delivery by the Discos and fair return on investment in the new tariff order.
“The new tariff order, aside from eliminating fixed charge, has a robust mechanism to ensure that electricity distribution companies fully meter their consumers and eliminate crazy billing within one year,” NERC said in the statement.