Electricity consumers in Nigeria have on too many occasions decried the various forms of discomfort they have been made to experience because of the very popular crisis in the power sector.
Some consumers have protested mass disconnection, power outages and even lack of connection to the national grid while the DisCos particularly have also accused their customers of non-payment of electricity bills, illegal connection amongst others.
A lot of Nigerians do not even know what is right and what is wrong when it comes to electricity. Reports show that most consumers are not aware of their rights and duties as electricity consumers.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) recently gave a directive to the Distribution Companies (DisCos) to fast track customers sensitisation on consumer rights. This is supposed to help us as consumers know when they are being unlawfully treated by our utility firm and what to do in such case.
However, because the power sector is riddled with a host of controversies and rumours as regards various aspects of electricity consumer right, we will start with Connection and Disconnection which usually the basis of most electricity related conflicts.
Here are your rights as regards connection and disconnection and also the customer service standards of performance for distribution companies according to NERC;
Electricity Consumer Rights:
- It is your right to have access to electricity service and accurate electric meter/billing.
- All new electricity connections must be done strictly on the basis of metering before connection. That is, no new customer should be connected without meter first being installed.
- It is your right to be notified in writing ahead of disconnection of electricity service by the distribution company service you.
DisCo’s Customer Service Standard:
1.Restoring Electricity supply to a customer’s premises;
Whenever a distribution company is informed by a customer during working hours that electricity supply to his premises has gone off, an authorized official from the Disco shall visit the customer’s premises within 24 hours of being notified by the customer to determine the cause of the problem, and where the cause of the outage is a problem with the Distribution Company’s equipment, one of the following standards shall be applied, that is, in case of-
Fault in the Distribution Company’s equipment – the fault shall be rectified and the electricity supply reconnected within twenty-four hours of the original notification of the outage.
2.Providing a new connection:
Whenever a Customer makes a request to a Distribution Company for a new or additional connection to his premises, the Distribution Company shall take measure to fit the meter and connect the power supply within ten working days of receiving the request:
The Distribution company shall inspect and approve the electrical installation: agrees to connect the supply; and the Customer has paid any approved charges.
3.Estimation of Connection Charge:
Whenever a Customer requests a Distribution Company to provide an estimate of the cost of connecting his premises to the Distribution Campany’s low voltage distribution network, and the work to be undertaken is the subject of standard pricing, the Distribution Company shall provide an estimate within three working days and in all other cases, the Distribution Company shall provide an estimate within five working days.
4.Notice of Planned Supply Interruption:
Whenever a distribution company is to discontinue the supply to a customer’s premises in order to undertake planned maintenance on its equipment, the distribution company shall provide the customer with a minimum of three working days notice for the interruption.
5. Reconnection of Supplies Disconnected for Non-payment:
When a customer whose premises was disconnected by a distribution company for non-payment of electricity charges either pays all outstanding charges including reconnection charges or enters into a payment arrangement with the distribution company for the outstanding debt and reconnection charges, requests the reconnection for his electricity supply, the customer shall have his electricity supply reconnected within twenty-four hours following the request for reconnection.