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COVID-19: NERC suspends electricity tariff hike till June 30

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has directed the 11 Distribution Companies (DisCos) to suspend the electricity tariff hike expected to begin today, to 30 June, 2020 citing global effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on the average Nigerian.

NERC conveyed this in an Order on the transition to cost reflective tariffs in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) tagged /198/2020, signed by the NERC Chairman, Prof. James Momoh and the NERC Commissioner for Legal, Licencing and Compliance, Dafe Akpeneye.

NERC said: “there shall be no increase in tariffs of end-use customers on 1 April, 2020. This Order shall take effect from 1 April 2020 and shall cease to have effect on the issuance of a new Order by the NERC.”

The Commission which had planned the hike for tomorrow, said it is aware of the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy and its impact on the average Nigerian.

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It noted that the previous Order on the December 2019 minor review of the Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO) 2015 and the Minimum Remittance Order (MRO) for 2020 “shall remain in force until 30 June 2020 when a new MRO shall be issued.”

NERC said the 11 DisCos submitted their Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) and also filed applications for an extraordinary tariff review with public hearings held from 25 February to 9 March for the DisCos.

There was also a hearing on providing tariff for ancillary services for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) on the national grid.

NERC said the stakeholders’ views show consumers are willing to pay appropriate rates for services rendered by the DisCos but must be of quality and with adequate metering.

The Commission also confirmed Daily Trust’s report on Monday about metering hurdles as it said a ‘wide’ 60 percent metering gap is a major hindrance with many complaints of arbitrary billing.

It also said the COVID-19 pandemic has obstructed importation of components for local meter assembly to supply consumers under the Meter Assets Provider (MAP) Regulation, and that it was discussing with MAP and DisCos to review the expectations.

NERC then gave the DisCos 21 days from today, to submit new PIPs on how they can recover their costs prudently with marginal profit by 30 June 2021 especially on how customers will be guaranteed improved services.

The DisCos were also directed to provide smart meters for their 11 kilovolts (kV) and 33kV feeders by 30 June 2020 so they can send real time data to the Commission.

Reacting, President of the Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, Kunle Kola Olubiyo, said the suspension was timely as he had called for that earlier.

“Even if you and I can afford any amount of money for electricity tariffs increase, what about our brothers and sisters in the villages and the vulnerable poor Nigerian consumers? That’s the point,” Olubiyo said.

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