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‘Disconnect Persistent Electricity Debtors’ –NERC clarifies earlier directives to DisCos

Following the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) directive to electricity distribution companies not to mass disconnect and subsequent attempt by some electricity customers to ride on that direction to evade settlement of their debts, the Commission has clarified that persistently defaulting customers could be disconnected.

This clarification is coming on the heels of media reportage of the Commission’s earlier directives warning electricity distribution companies against mass disconnection of cities, town and villages inclusive of customers, who have paid their electricity bills or have prepaid meters.

While restating the Commission’s position against mass disconnection of electricity consumers, the Acting Chairman, Dr. Anthony Akah, mni, said, “We are unambiguous in our directives that the distribution companies should observe laid down procedures in disconnecting electricity customers.”

“This directive which is line with our subsisting regulation does not negate the ongoing disconnection of chronic electricity debtors by electricity distribution companies. All electricity customers including ministries, departments and agencies of government are advised to clear their electricity debts to avoid disconnections, Akah said.”

According to him, “What we frown at is a situation whereby a block of flats is disconnected without regard to the right of a customer who is update in his/her bill or a whole community is mass disconnected not minding the rights of non-defaulting customers within that community. This is absolutely unacceptable to the Commission.”

Meanwhile, section 6a & b of the Regulations on Connection and Disconnection Procedures for Electricity Services, 2007 permits electricity distribution companies to disconnect without notice where a customer is illegally connected to its network or if such connection is hazardous to the system.

Section 5 of the same regulation further stipulates that electricity distribution companies should formally notify a customer of intention to disconnect.

The Acting Chairman said, “Electricity customers should settle their bills for the industry to have the revenue requirement for efficient service delivery. He, in the same breath, advised electricity service providers to fast track implementation of metering plan as contained in their service performance agreements to remove opacity in the billing system.

This will, according to him, reduce rising complaints of alleged overbilling by electricity customers.

Dr. Usman Abba Arabi - Head, Public Affairs Department