THE Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has insisted that communities or individuals who provide transformers for electricity distribution companies (DisCos) to enhance or fast-track their power supply must sign agreement with the DisCos before investing in the utility.
According to the Investment in Network Regulation, in case customers were so pressed to purchase a transformer for a DisCo, they must sign an agreement on the refund of the cost of the transformer.
Without an agreement prior to the asset transfer to the energy distributor, the utility company could claim it to be a donation.
NERC, Commissioner, Consumer Affairs, Aisha Mahmud made this known at the ongoing AEDC Customer Complaints Resolution Meeting in Abuja yesterday.
“They go about making all sorts of investments and at the end of the day the DisCos will say it is a donation to them because there is no agreement,” said the commissioner.
Speaking with reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, she said the tariff customer pays has already provided for return on investment for the DisCos.
This implies that it would be double payments from the customers if they are not refunded for additional investment in the network.
“What we expect from the utility is to use their IGR, that is what they get from consumers or rather their shareholders investment they can invest to buy those assets or they can borrow from banks also to purchase the asset,” she said.
Mahmud added: “The commission came up with a regulation that we call investment in the network regulation. In the event that a customer has to purchase a transformer, it has to be done through an agreement.
“They have to sign an agreement with the utility, stating when and how the customer will be refunded because the customer has to be refunded the cost of that transformer.
“And the agreement should be like any other standard international agreement with a dispute resolution clause and all other clauses that are in a standard agreement.”
“The reason why we allow this is because as the tariff that we provided for the utility we allow for what is called return on capital.”
Mahmud said most customers’ complaints were about metering, stressing that many have written to NERC expressing their readiness to pay the approved tariff but that they need meters to measure their consumption.
She said the DisCos and World Bank were in the procurement process of phase one of the National Mass Metering Programme that is targeted at metering four million customers in the first phase.
She noted that there were other options that the NERC had given to the DisCos to meter their customers.