DisCos condemn NERC’s silence over July 1 commencement of planned tariff increase

The Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) have condemned the silence of the regulator of the body, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on DisCos’ planned July 1 commencement of a new service based electricity tariff regime in the country.
The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) in a statement at the weekend, by its Executive Director of Research and Advocacy, Barr. Sunday Oduntan frowned at the disposition of the NERC.

He said: “We are in a regulated sector. We cannot take a decision about a very critical aspect of the sector like tariff without a nod from the regulator (NERC).

“However, what has happened in recent days is that our regulator is warning us not to mention their name or the Federal Government in any of our communication about the tariff increase with our customers. This is certainly very unfair.

“Many stakeholders have expressed their concern at the unusual silence of our regulator, NERC on the upcoming increase and it looks like a unilateral decision by the DisCos.

“We’ll like to inform Nigerians that tariff review (upward or downwards) is the primary responsibility of NERC as our regulator. We are required to submit our proposals and they have the final say”.

“Hence we were surprised to receive a letter from NERC to all the DisCos warning them not to mention their name or that of the Federal government in any public communications on tariffs”.

“While it is our obligation to communicate the increase, it is also important for customers to know that it is following standard processes of tariff adjustments in the sector with approvals from NERC and the FG.

“As DisCos, we believe in the rule of law. We will only carry out lawful approval and instructions by our regulator.”

“The proposed increase and the timing of the increase in tariffs were done by NERC. It is their statutory responsibility. DisCos alone cannot fix and approve electricity tariffs.

“We are very sensitive to the feelings and yearnings of our customers during this period of COVID-19.

“To demonstrate our sensitivity, Nigerians will recall that the DisCos, in conjunction with the National Assembly came out to suggest a two-month free electricity supply for our residential customers but the proposal was not approved by the Federal Government due to paucity of funds occasioned by the reduction of national incomes from sales of crude oil.

“The fact that the action is deliberately made to look unilateral is capable of creating public resistance, effectively setting DisCos up to fail,” Oduntan said in the statement.