The senate on Tuesday has asked the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to immediately abolish fixed charges on electricity consumption, bulk marketing of villages and communities
This was made known after a motion by Sen. Sam Egwu (Ebonyi North) was raised titled Unfair Trade Practices of Electicity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) in Nigeria.
It was co-sponsored by Sen. David Umaru (Niger East).
Also, it directed NERC to ask the DISCOs to discontinue the practice of compulsory bulk metering of villages and communities in the rural areas as a consumer should have the right to elect to be part of bulk metering scheme or not.
The senate also directed NERC to a make a regulation to mandate the DISCOs to discontinue the practice of making consumers pay for meters, ?poles and transformers which by law are property of the DISCOs.
But where the consumers provide those items, they should give notice of the provision to the DISCOs and should be entitled to recover their expenses from subsequent consumption of electricity.
It equally called on the NERC to bring an end to the monopoly of the D?ISCOs on the sales of energy meters to enable consumers to purchase them either from the DISCOs or from any other supplier subject to the regulation and specification of NERC, and also account for all the money that has been so far collected on fixed charges across the country.
The senate president, Bukola Saraki said the privatisation of the electricity distribution company made empty promises and the agencies in charge let them get away with it.
“This is a very important bill because here is an example where reforms and expectations of Nigerians have been very high.
“It will bring better power supply and opportunities to our people but it is the opposite.
“People have not seen profit from the exercise and the question is what is the reason for this.
“I believe that a lot of malpractices that come out in this discussion and we must be able to come to the bottom of it.
“We must begin to show that there is a change”, he said.
Mr Egwu who sponsored the motion said “NERC was established to licence and regulate persons engaged in the generation, transmission, system operation distribution and trading of electricity.
“Despite all efforts? by the government however, there has been constant level of arbitrariness, whereby electricity consumers are charged extortionate rates, fixed rate, based on the use of the billed meters installed by the then Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
“The distribution companies since the takeoff of their operation has been ripping off consumers through fixed charges and bulk metering across the country”, he said.
Sen. Ben Murray-Bruce (Bayelsa state) in support of checking the motion said, the electricity distribution company always sends conflicting bil?ls reaching about N20 million a month to his company, Silverbird.
Sen. Clifford Odia (Edo state) said the senate must put their foot down on the ill practices of the DISCOs.
Sen. Saraki said that a public hearing will be held to hear the pleas of Nigerians in this matter and look for ways to solve the issues.