Estimated billing: NERC queries Benin, Enugu, five DISCOs

 Estimated billing: NERC queries Benin, Enugu, five DISCOs
DISCO official disconnecting lines on electric pole

…Issues them 14 days to enforce order on unmetered consumers

By Chris Ochayi

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on Tuesday issued notices of intention to sanction seven distribution companies over their alleged failure to comply with the Order capping estimated billing of unmetered customers.

The Order 197/2020 placed limits on estimated bills that can be issued by DISCOs to unmetered electricity customers of residential (R2) and commercial (C1).

The electricity regulatory agency gave the indication about the enforcement notice through its Twitter handle, @NERCNG, listed the affected DISCOs to include those in Benin, Enugu, Eko, Ikeja, Kano, Kaduna and Port Harcourt.

NERC issued the affected DISCOs to within 14 days beginning from June 4 to explain why they should not be penalised over their alleged non-compliance.

The order was to ensure consumers in the two categories, who do not have electricity meters installed for them by the DISCOs, were not disconnected from the electricity supply grid.

Recall that on February 20, 2020, NERC issued Order No/NERC/197/2020 on capping of estimated billings in Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).

The Order repealed the NERC (Methodology for Estimated Billing) Regulations 2012 and placed a cap on estimated bill to unmetered customers by DISCOs  in the NESI effective February 20, 2020.

The NERC said the Order was to protect unmetered R2 (Residential-single and 3-phase meters, who consume more than 50kWh per month) and C1 (Commercial-single and 3-phase meters, small businesses) customers from arbitrary billing and expedite their metering process.

Details of the Order was for DISCOs to ensure all tariff class A1 customers were properly identified and metered latest by April 30, 2020.

A1 customers are those using grid-connected premises for agriculture, schools, water boards, religious houses, government and teaching hospitals, and others, requiring single or three phase meters. All unmetered R2 and C1 customers, the Order said, shall not be invoiced for consumption of energy beyond the price capped in schedule.

The capped prices included in the Order, was N1,872.00 for R2, where consumption is capped at 78-kilowatt hour per month at a tariff of N24 per kilowatt.

Also, all Residential customers who consume not more than 50-kilowatt hour (R1 Customers) per month shall be billed N4 per kilowatt hour at a total maximum of N200 per month.

Besides, the Order said all other customers on higher tariffs shall be metered by April 30, 2020, otherwise they shall remain connected to supply, but without further payment to the DISCOs until a meter is installed for them.

The Order directed that any customer whose current estimated bill was below the capped price shall remain so without upward review until the installation of a meter by the DISCOs.

Any customer who rejects the installation of a meter must be disconnected by the DISCO.

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