FCCPC supports NERC's N10.5 billion fine on DisCos

•NERC warns against poor performance

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has thrown its weight behind the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC)’s imposition of a N10.5 billion fine on electricity distribution companies (DisCos) for failing to comply with capping of estimated bills for unmetered customers.

The fine comes as part of an ongoing effort to address issues related to electricity billing and enhanced consumer protection.The commission emphasized the importance of holding electricity distributors accountable and ensuring fair billing practices while maintaining a high standard of service delivery.

Acting Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Dr Adamu Abdullahi, said NERC’s strong action was by the FCCPC’s mandate as specified in the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) 2018, specifically in Section 17 (s), which empowers the Commission to safeguard consumers from objectionable practices or unethical exploitation perpetrated by companies, firms, trade associations or individuals and authority to seek remedy on behalf of consumers.

He added that FCCPC’s existing memorandum of understanding (MoU) with NERC aims to ensure more effective protection for electricity consumers through information sharing, joint investigations and coordinated enforcement actions.

Abdullahi added that the capping regulation was a significant step towards ensuring fairer treatment for those without meters with full support from FCCPC. He encouraged NERC to consider more robust measures such as elevated financial penalties, stringent enforcement mechanisms and revocation of operating licenses to discourage future infractions.

He urged electricity consumers who have experienced unfair treatment through estimated bills to step forward and register complaints with their respective DisCos. In cases where these grievances are not adequately resolved, he advised escalating the complaints to either NERC or the FCCPC.

Assuring a thorough investigation of all legitimate complaints, he committed to ensuring redress for affected consumers.

“Apart from its routine resolution of electricity consumer complaints, the Commission will continue to organise electricity consumer platforms across the country. These platforms have provided invaluable opportunities for consumers to voice their complaints and receive instant responses and redress from DisCos and regulators, including the FCCPC.

“FCCPC’s existing MoU with NERC aims to ensure more effective protection for electricity consumers through information sharing, joint investigations, and coordinated enforcement actions. The Commission believes that fundamental reforms are necessary to address the systemic challenges facing the sector, including metering gaps, billing malpractices, and inadequate customer service,” he said.

Similarly, NERC Vice Chairman, Musiliu Useni at the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) 2024 first stakeholder’s meeting has called on DisCos to enhance their performance, warning of potential consequences as the commission would evaluate their performance on an individual basis, scrutinising each case for appropriate action.

“NERC will look at performance on a case-by-case basis. Sanctions and actions will not be the same. Ensure that you improve your efficiency. If your efficiency is at the level expected, you will get your full OPEX. If you don’t perform, you will only get 50 per cent of your administration OPEX.”

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