The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has given Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) the powers to disconnect customers who fail to pay electricity bills after 12 working days.
NERC in its “Customer Protection Regulations 2023” released at the weekend, said DisCos cannot bill a customer for periods in which the customer is disconnected.
It stated that DisCos must give a notice of disconnection to customers stating date, time and reason for disconnection.
The Commission said: “The following conditions must be fulfilled before Distribution Companies can exercise their rights to disconnect customers for failure to pay their bills by the specified payment date.
“The payment date must be clearly stated on the bill.
“The payment date must be at least 10 days from the date of the delivery of the bill to the customer. Bills may be delivered physically to the customer’s premises or by some other electronic means, including text messages or electronic mail, as agreed with the customer.
“The period between the payment date and date of scheduled disconnection for nonpayment is not less than two working days after the payment date.
“The Distribution Company must verify from its records that payment has not been made by the customer,” it added.
NERC also authorised DisCos to disconnect a customer without notice if the customer is illegally connected to the network, the disconnection is dangerous to the network, or where the customer fails to grant access to have the meter reading taken.
Speaking to Vanguard on the new regulations, the Chairman, Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria, Chijioke James said while he does not encourage customers to owe for electricity consumed, providing meters to customers remains the most viable way.
“When customers have prepaid meters, it means the issue of disconnection would not arise as consumers are able to monitor their consumption. Supply is automatically cut off when you exhaust your units and it is restored when you recharge. No hassles.
“Estimated billing method is arbitrary and should be discontinued immediately. Every customer deserves to be metered and that is what we have been calling for,” he added.