Senate queries planned electricity tariff hike

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The Senate has called on the Federal Government to halt planned increment in electricity tariff.

The call followed a motion brought under Matters of Public Importance by Sen. Aminu lya Abbas and co-sponsored by 10 other senators.

The senate mandated the committee to investigate the statement made by the Minister of Power, regarding the N1.3 trillion the ministry was owing generating companies and the 1.3 billion dollars owed to gas companies;

The Upper Chamber also mandated the investigation of Ministry of Power, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission(NERC) and Ziglaks company, on their roles in the failed agreement to provide prepaid meters and ensure Nigeria is not shortchanged.

The senate also mandated the relevant committee to engage NERC to come up with lasting solution to the Energy Billing System in the country and other related issues.

It also directed NERC to provide the committee with relevant documents on metering of electricity consumers, post privatisation requirements for the operation of DISCOs and evidence of regulatory actions taken to ensure statutory compliance by DISCOs.

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The red chamber further directed NERC to ensure implementation of energy caps by all DISCOS to unmetered customers in the country.

The committee is to also to make enquiry with regard to the issue of federal government directive and release of funds for mass pre-paid metering and report findings to the senate.

Furthermore, the senate called for the enforcement and judicious utilisation of the N10.5 billion penalty imposed on DISCOs as well as investigate their operations.

This according to the upper chamber, would help ascertain current status of metering and extent of compliance with relevant legal and regulatory frameworks in service delivery.

Senate further directed  the committee to submit comprehensive report for further legislative action within three weeks

In his presentation, Sen. Abbas said the planned increment in electricity tariff was a huge disregard for the high cost of living.

He said the Minister of Power was reported saying “the nation must begin to move towards a cost-effective tariff model as the country is currently indebted to the tune of 1.3 trillion naira to generating companies (GenCos) and 1.3 billion dollars owed gas companies.

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He also quoted the minister as saying, while over N2 trillion was required for subsidy, only N450 billion was budgeted in the 2024 budget.

The same electricity businesses are collecting money from customers for services not rendered when they have not added anything to the equipment they inherited from PHCN.

“Communities buy transformers to replace damaged ones in addition to over burden bills and arbitrary estimates for unmetered customers.

Cognisance in a country where greater number of the population live below the poverty level, with stagnant wages, rising inflation and depreciating currency, the prospect of higher electricity bill is unattainable.

“The issue of arbitrary energy charges on unmetered customers has become worrisome given the February 2024 report of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on the non-compliance with energy billing caps by DISCOS and the penalty of N10.5 Billion imposed on the distribution companies that over-billed its unmetered customers,”he said.

The lawmaker said in 2020 the president then, ordered the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to commence mass pre-paid metering to end estimated billing, and that funds were released to that effect.

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The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio in his remarks, commended Sen. Abbas and co-sponsored of the bill.

“There is preponderance of support for the motion.

“There is a need to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians, so, the relevant committee should ensure this is complied with,” he said.

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