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PHCN: Know Your Rights, Obligations As Energy Consumer

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PHCN, CONSUMER

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) have repeatedly stated that it is not the responsibility of energy consumers to procure electric equipment for energy DISCOs.

Recently at the customer/energy forum which was held at Ikeja and Victoria Island Lagos, the Director General FCCPC, Tunde Irukera, stressed on the need for consumers to stand on their rights and resist all pressure from electric energy providers to buy, repair or instal equipment for them. “The DISCO is responsible for the repair and replacement of damaged installation.”

However, at various times, the reverse is the case. Mrs. Fumi Ajala of Oremeji Avenue Shasha, Lagos, lamented that energy officials about three weeks ago told residents of her street that they must procure four wood electric poles if they were to continue to enjoy electricity.

“Each of the wood electric poles cost N34,000 and buying it doesn’t exempt us from paying their crazy estimated bills as we are not even metered. Unfortunately, some residents who are afraid of staying without light are making plans to pay but majority of us said we will not pay,” fumed Ajala, who is a teacher.

Mrs. Victoria Okesanya, an ardent reader of this page, actually contacted Consumer Watch to share the story which she described as a harrowing experience.

According to her, houses on six streets in her area, Akowonjo, Egbeda, have been without electricity since April 6th because they have been unable to raise the N550,000 which Ikeja DISCO officials demanded for the purchase of electric cables.

The streets affected, according to the pensioner, are Oni, Jimoh Akinremi, Adesina, Azeez Ayomi, Odugbemi, and Alade Sole streets. “Most of us refused to pay because the money will not end up in the treasury of the DISCO. We have written to the Ikeja DISCO and were informed to take our complaints to their branch office at Ponle, Egbeda, which we have done. We have also written to NERC but there has been no respite.”

Unfortunately, at the customer’s forum at Ikeja, some of the consumers complained that one of the challenges facing the energy industry is that the stakeholders that make the laws are the ones that abuse them.

There are guidelines which NERC stipulates that must be followed before consumers are disconnected, how many energy providers adhere to those guild lines? Most of us do not even know our rights, obligations and those of the energy providers. These are things we need to know to be able to insist on our rights.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission is empowered by the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act, 2005 to ensure an efficiently managed electricity supply industry that meets the yearnings of Nigerians for stable, adequate and safe electricity supply.

The Act mandates the commission to ensure that electricity operators recover costs on prudent investment and provide quality service to customers.

To ensure quality service delivery, it is pertinent that electricity customers know their rights as follows:

All new electricity connections must be done strictly based on metering before connection. That is, no new customer should be connected by a DisCo without a metre first being installed at the premises.

All customers have a right to electricity supply in a safe and reliable manner.

All customers have a right to a properly installed and functional metre.

All customers have a right to properly informed and educated on the electricity service.

All customers have a right to transparent electricity billing.

All un-metered customers should be issued with electricity bills strictly based on NERC’s estimated billing methodology.

It is the customer’s right to be notified in writing ahead of disconnection of electricity service by the DisCo serving the customer in line with NERC’s guidelines.

All customers have a right to refund when over billed.

All customers have a right to file complaints.

All complaints on electricity supply and other billing issues are to be sent to the nearest business unit of the DisCo serving the customer.

If a complaint is not satisfactorily addressed, customers have a right to escalate the issue to the NERC Forum Office within the coverage area of the DisCo.

Customers have the right to appeal the decision of the NERC Forum Office by writing a petition to the commission.

It is the customer’s right to contest any electricity bill.

Any un-metered customer who is disputing his or her estimated bill has the right not to pay the disputed bill, but pay only the last undisputed bill as the contested bill go through the dispute resolution process of NERC.

It is not the responsibility of electricity customer or community to buy, replace or repair electricity transformers, poles and related equipment used in the supply of electricity

Obligations of electricity consumers

It is expected of consumers to pay bills for electricity consumed.( Provide requirements for connection as stipulated by NERC and DisCo and also keep vigilant protection of electrical installations.(

Consumers are supposed to be cordial towards electricity workers and( Customer compliance to the requirements of the distribution code. Pay for electricity used within the stipulated time frame.

According to documents obtained from NERC, consumers must ensure receipt of monthly electricity bills if not on prepaid metres and lodge a complaint to the DisCo serving you should you not get your bills.

It is the obligation of consumers to ensure that metering and other electrical equipment within their premises belonging to the DisCo is not tampered with, or by-passed. Notify the DisCo serving you of any tampering or bypass of electricity installations. Notify the DisCo serving you of any outstanding electricity bill before moving into new premises.

Source: The Nation with additional information from NERC.



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