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Electricity consumers kick against proposed new tariffs

Electricity workers. PHOTO: Amos Kobor

On Sunday, consumer groups protested the Nigerian Energy Regulatory Commission’s proposed review of electricity tariffs for the 11 power Distribution Companies (DisCos) (NERC).

They insisted that there was no reason for any increase in energy tariffs due to the existing economic realities and problems confronting Nigerians.

The Energy Consumer Rights and Responsibilities Initiative (ECRRI) and the All Electricity Consumers Protection Forum (AECPF) expressed their concerns in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

According to NAN, the power sector’s regulator, NERC, declared in a public notice that it was working on concluding the Extraordinary Tariff Review procedure for the DisCos.

The commission also stated that it will begin the processes for the July 2021 Minor Review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO-2020), which is performed every six months.

However, Mr Adeola Samuel-Ilori, National Coordinator, AECPF, stated that minor reviews were not automatic, even though they were conducted every six months.

“There are conditions that must be met before they will do any inspection, major or minor,” Samuel-Ilori said.

“In the main assessment, they must comply with Section 76(1) of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA), which specifies that a licensee can request a review based on what the licensee has invested so far to increase supply.

“This also refers to small reviews, and we cannot conclude that supply has increased in the last few months as a result of DisCos’ investments in the market.

“As of today, we are producing 5,866MW to support the entire Nigerian population, which is close to 200 million people. That cannot be defined as an improvement,” he said.

He also said that there was no such thing as an exceptional review of the EPSRA, emphasising that what Nigerians wanted now was better supply rather than tariff increases.

In addition, Mr Surai Fadairo, National President of ECRRI, claimed that Nigerians were still struggling to cope with the last tariff increase following the big review in 2020.

According to Fadairo, “the national minimum wage is N30,000, and several states are yet to enact the payment.”

“The cost of goods and services is increasing. Any Nigerians have lost their livelihood as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and are barely surviving.

“At this moment in time, there is no basis for any increase in energy. “We are also considering how the government should provide energy credits to Nigerians in order to alleviate their plight,” he added.

According to NAN, NERC said exceptional tariff reviews were carried out in cases where market criteria had changed from those used in operational tariffs to such a degree that a review was desperately needed to sustain the industry’s viability.

The commission stated that the evaluations must take into account developments in inflation, foreign exchange, gas prices, and usable generating capacity.

NERC stated that it would also consider the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) needed to evacuate and allocate the said usable generation power in compliance with EPSRA and other industry rules.

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