An argument recently ensued between officials of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, and representatives of the Association of the Nigerian Electricity Distributors, ANED over the non-availability of prepaid meter and a standard fining system at a Power Safety Seminar in Port Harcourt.
The disagreement between the nation’s power regulatory agency and the private sector players in the industry, especially the distribution companies which almost led to a standoff, revealed probable frustrations building up within the equity owners in the 11 distribution companies.
It was disclosed that NERC had accused the Discos of inefficiency, including absence of pre-paid meters, saying the Discos were hiding under non-payment by consumers to owe the transmission companies and the government.
Reports from estate times reveal that Abdulrasheed Busari, Senior Manager of NERC, East and South South, said by now, all consumers should be in pre-paid metering system such that they would not only pay what they consumed, but they would also pay before service, thereby eliminating debt overhang in the retail sector of the power chain.
He accused the Discos of failing to flood Nigeria with metres, especially pre-paid ones and said NERC was no longer prepared to hear that consumers did not pay.
He said the Commission was interested in the benefits of privatisation in the form of adequate power supply in homes, and assured of more fines coming on erring Discos.
The accusations seemed to trigger misunderstanding between the representative of ANED, Azu Obiaya, who also accused the NERC of being out to execute the Discos.
He pointed to the maximum amount on tariff imposed by NERC in the face of what he called excessive expenses to retail power, yet, NERC expected the Discos to perform magic.
Obiaya said, “It was wrong to wait for a Disco to spend on procurement of equipment, repairs, etc, and incur costs and losses that claim almost all the money they collected with little or no profit.
The Discos demanded for what the ANED representative called cost-reflective tariff to save the distressed distributors, wondering how the Discos struggling to make ends meet would continue to pay such huge fines imposed by NERC” he claimed.
When serenity finally returned, NERC officials promised to look into the fines already imposed but insisted that the fining system would not be removed because it was meant to make the Discos sit up.

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