Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs, in the country have defied the directive by the Senate to abolish the Fixed Charges introduced by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, as consumers continue to decry indiscriminate increase in electricity bills.
The non compliance of DISCOs has triggered sundry issues which border on the abuse of the rights of Nigerian consumers.
A businessman in Abuja, Mr. Chinedu Okpara, said his last bill, dated September 5th from the Electricity Distribution Company still carried the Fixed Charge of 750Naira.
Another customer, Mrs. Funmi Adebanke, who uses a Pre-paid metre, said her latest Fixed Charge remained at 750Naira.
NERC has, however, insisted on the non-abolition of the said Fixed Charges, stating that it is not illegal.
Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Sam Amadi, said the purpose of the fixed charges was to recover the capital and fixed costs of various operators in the electricity industry.
“NERC respectfully argues that the Fixed Charge that consumers pay in the Nigerian electricity market is not illegal or necessarily fraudulent,’’ he insisted.
Dr. Amadi argued that the Fixed Charges are not peculiar to Nigeria as they are part of the electricity markets across the world.
“Fixed Charges, appearing in different names, are part of electricity markets across the world. The difference in Nigeria could be that we don’t have a good supply of electricity because of the legacy problem of lack of generation capacity.”
Director General, Consumer Protection Council, CPC, Mrs. Dupe Atoki, yesterday disclosed that the CPC has begun investigating DISCOs to obtain and evaluate relevant information regarding their operations, following the ensuing hiccups.
“This investigation panel is expected to ascertain from the respective DISCOs their level of compliance with relevant regulations, guidelines and directives issued by regulators in the electricity sector, in line with Section 12 of the CPC Act,” she explained.
The Senate had on August 11 directed NERC to immediately put an end to the Fixed Charges, which are being collected from electricity consumers across the federation, following the numerous complaints from consumers.
The Senate’s directive was sequel to a motion entitled: ‘Unfair Trade Practices of Electricity Distribution Companies in Nigeria’, which was sponsored by the duo of Senator Sam Egwu and Senator David Umaru.
“The distribution companies, since the takeover of their operations, have been ripping off consumers through the Fixed Charges and bulk metering across the country,” they explained.
Also, the Senate urged NERC to direct the DISCOs to discontinue the practice of compulsory bulk metering of villages and communities in the rural areas.

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