Nigeria: NERC to Reduce Grace Period for Disconnecting Debtors, Others

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has begun the process to review five key electricity consumer protection regulations in the power sector including reducing a three month grace period to 10 days, before a Distribution Company (DisCo) can disconnect a debtor.

According to a consultation paper calling for inputs, the Commission said, the regulations are Customer Complaints Handling: Standards and Procedures Regulation 2006; Meter Reading, Billing, Cash Collections and Credit management for Electricity Supplies Regulation 2007; Customers Service Standard of Performance for Distribution Companies 2007; Connection and Disconnection Procedures for Electricity Services 2007; and Methodology for Determination of Connection Charges for Electricity Supply 2012.

Although NERC said: "The Commission is desirous of reviewing the regulations to align them with the current realities in order to ensure the interests of customers are protected," it however revealed that it got proposals from some DisCos about some amendments to the regulations, which could have prompted the review.

For instance, in the disconnection regulation, NERC has proposed 10 days after the payment due date before DisCos can disconnect a debtor customer instead of 30 days. However, it is observed that the DisCos do not often comply with this in the past.

NERC also proposed to allow only metered customers to pay meter maintenance charge or expunge it from the regulation.

Another pro-consumer amendment is the plan that DisCos will compensate a consumer wrongfully disconnected by 100 percent energy of his consumption daily or a daily cap for the days of the disconnection. This may replace the N1,000, N1,500 and N2,000 fines to be paid to residential, commercial and industrial consumers in the current regulation.

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