The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has directed electric consumers not provided with prepaid meters by March 1 to stop paying for electric bills presented by Distribution Companies (DISCOs) on the basis of estimated billing methodology.
The commission also ordered the DISCOs not to disconnect any such customer that refuses to pay the bills and further advised such customers to report to the commission if disconnected.
NERC gave the directive on Wednesday in a statement on its website and said it was part of its sanctioning of defaulting DISCOs who failed to provide meters for its customers before the March 1 deadline.
In line with its mandate of protecting the rights of customers, NERC had in June 2016 after consultation with the operators, directed DISCOs to conclude metering of all customers before November 30, 2016.
According to NERC, the commission at the expiration of that notice, granted three months moratorium which expired on March 1, to enable the DISCOs effectively execute the metering deployment plan for MD customers.
According to the statement, the sanction was sequel to the expiration of the initial directives by NERC and the moratorium period given to DISCOs to meter consumers.
The statement reads in part:
“A directive was issued to distribution companies by the Commission in June 2016 for all MD customers to be metered by 30 November 2016.
“The Commission received appeals on compliance deadline from distribution companies prior to the expiration of the 30 November 2016 deadline. The deadline was extended to 1 March 2017 after consideration of appeals received from distribution companies.
“Upon due consideration of facts above and the expiration of the compliance deadline granted to distribution companies on the metering of MD customers; the Commission hereby directs as follows –
“1. Any MD customer that was not metered by 1 March 2017 shall not pay any electricity bill presented by a distribution company on the basis of estimated billing methodology and these customers are advised to report this to the Commission.
“2. No distribution company shall disconnect any MD customer that was not metered by 1 March 2017 on the basis of the customer’s refusal to pay a bill issued after the compliance deadline on the basis of estimated billing methodology.