POWER

ELECTRICITY: A PARADIGM SHIFT TO THE RESCUE_FEMI EHIABHI

Electricity matters in Nigeria have always been contentious even after transiting from NEPA to PHCN and now to different DISCOs (DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES).

Vandalism of equipment, lack of proper maintenance of transformers, poor management and corruption are still issues that are producing sub-optimal electricity.

The DISCOs, who are supposed to be private sector driven, have done nothing innovative to ensure that consumers get the best service for their product offerings.

Prepaid meters that are supposed to define an acceptable means of determining consumption and billing are usually not made available, preferring to stick with the manual way of determining same.

Officials of these DISCOs have capitalized on these billing lapses to rip off their customer by encouraging the  “estimating” billing system that is fraught with “negotiations”. The officials ensure that the prepaid meters are not available to large section of the population.

Most of the Consumers are not abreast with their right as enumerated by NERC (NIGERIA ELECTRICITY REGULATORY COMMISSION).

To ensure quality service delivery, it is pertinent that electricity customers know their rights as follows:

1.    All new electricity connections must be done strictly based on metering before connection. That is, no new customer should be connected by a DisCo without a meter first being installed at the premises.
2.    All customers have a right to electricity supply in a safe and reliable manner.
3.    All customers have a right to a properly installed and functional meter.
4.    All customers have a right to properly informed and educated on the electricity service. 
5.    All customers have a right to transparent electricity billing. 
6.    All Un-metered customers should be issued with electricity bills strictly based on NERC’s estimated billing methodology.
7.    It is the customer’s right to be notified in writing ahead of disconnection of electricity service by the DisCo serving the customer in line with NERC’s guidelines.
8.    All customers have a right to refund when over billed.
9.    All customers have a right to file complaints and to the prompt investigation of complaints.
10.    All complaints on electricity supply and other billing issues are to be sent to the nearest business unit of the DisCo serving the customer. 
11.    If a complaint is not satisfactorily addressed, customers have a right to escalate the issue to the NERC Forum Office within the coverage area of the DisCo. 
12.    Customers have the right to appeal the decision of the NERC Forum Office by writing a petition to the Commission.
13.    It is the customer’s right to contest any electricity bill. 
14.    Any un-metered customer who is disputing his or her estimated bill has the right not to pay the disputed bill, but pay only the last undisputed bill as the contested bill go through the dispute resolution process of NERC.
15.    It is not the responsibility of electricity customer or community to buy, replace or repair electricity transformers, poles and related equipment used in the supply of electricity.

The above rights are trampled upon with reckless abandonee by officials disconnecting electricity from consumers without going through the enumerated process of engagement with them.

The Consumers are becoming wary about the services of the DISCOs as it seems that nothing has changed from the old order.

A paradigm shift from same of the same is what will certainly break the ice.

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