NERC WADES INTO PHCN CHARGES …AS CPC TABLES HEAP OF CONSUMERS COMPLAINTS
By Favour Nnabugwu
National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is wading into the various charges by Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) on electricity consumers especially the metering fee as Consumer protection Council tabled heap of complaints to the commission. NERC gave the assurance during a visit of Consumer Protection Council (CPC) to the commission's head office in Abuja yesterday during which CPC tabled a number of complaints received by the council from electricity consumers.
Ms Ify Umuenyi, CPC Director-General elucidated that in spite of the all the charges, electricity consumers still do not get value for their money aggravated by estimated billing charges which contradicts what is obtainable in other developing and developed countries.
Some of the complaints that the council presented at NERC are non-availability of pre-paid meters; non-availability of transformers worsened by the various charges such as meter charge, meter maintenance fee and fixed charge.
According to her, 'A lot of consumers have complained to the council on the many inexplicable charges on the PHCN bills' In spite of the change in the name of meter maintenance fee to metering fee, CPC DG insisted that the charges are still not justifiable. She said, 'The change in the name has not changed the concerns of consumers on this charge. We are still at a loss as to why there should be a charge for meter maintenance fee once the unit has been purchased' On the fixed charge, Umuenyi said that consumers considered it unnecessary, adding ' Consumers complain of the fact that their estimated bills do not in any way reflect their consumption pattern. The billing is done randomly and there appears to be no scientific method of establishing the consumers' consumption pattern
Other complaints from consumers include estimated billing charges; proposed increase in tariff; poor and unfriendly customers care services and the need for PHCN to sensitise and educate its customers.
Dr Sam Amadi, NERC chairman promised to restore faith and confidence of electricity consumers in the country by ensuring that all the lapses of the past years by PHCN are totally erased.
Amadi stressed that only NERC had the powers to make pronouncement on tariffs and quoting the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act 2005, he recalled that the Commission had the sole mandate to regulate the Nigeria electricity supply industry and take decisions on tariff.
Meanwhile, the electricity regulatory body said that the NERC would soon open office offices in the six geographical zones and also ensure that PHCN open forum offices in the zone as required by the law.