Controversies seem to be trailing commencement of the new electricity tariff regime by July 1st, as the electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) on Sunday, accused the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) of distancing itself from the planned increase.
They described the Regulator’s “unusual silence” as “unfair” especially when NERC is responsible for downward or upward review of electricity tariffs.
The umbrella body of the 11 DisCos, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) in a statement issued by its Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Mr Sunday Oduntan explained that a proposal for the review of the tariff was submitted to the Commission which is approved.
He said the DisCos recently received a letter from the Commission, dissociating itself and the Federal Government (FG) from any public communications on tariffs.
Oduntan argued that the decision on the new tariff was not unilateral taken by the DisCos but with NERC’s consent.
“We are in a regulated sector. We cannot make 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.
“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”, he said.
He noted that while it is DisCos’ obligation to communicate increase, this followed 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.”
Oduntan reminded that NERC’s latest disposition may likely cause public resistance, “effectively setting DisCos up to fail.”
He added that all the DisCos had started communicating the new tariff regime, a week before saying; “The communication was geared at enlightening customers about the details of the service based tariff increase to ensure customers were fully aware of how it pertained to them and the supply band they fall under.
“The truth is that we are the public-facing arm of the sector, but what we collect is shared by everybody, including NERC. - NT