Most Nigerian electricity consumers do not know they have rights as consumers, talk less knowing these rights. These rights cover just about everything they will get to experience with their suppliers (DisCos). Not knowing these rights have given the average electricity consumer an avenue to feel oppressed and grumble at every opportunity.
With the enactment of the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act of 2005, the national power utility company (NEPA) was unbundled into 18 companies: 6 generation companies (GenCos), 11 Distribution companies (DisCos) & 1 Transmission company (TCN). This act also created the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). The commission is tasked with ensuring that everything within the power sector is done efficiently as the sector meets the electricity needs of all Nigerians.
NERC was created to ensure that Nigerians get stable, adequate and safe electricity. They also have to ensure that electricity operators (the GenCos, TCN & DisCos) recover their costs on prudently investing and providing electricity to consumers.
For quality service delivery and to mitigate misunderstanding between electricity operators & electricity consumers, NERC developed the following rights and we should all know them so we’re not cheated or mistreated in any way:
- All new electricity connections must be done strictly on the basis of metering before connection. No new customer should be connected without a meter being installed first. You must insist that your disco provides a meter before your new house is connected else you will be asking to be estimated.
- All customers have the right to electricity in a safe and reliable manner.
- All customers have a right to a properly installed and functional meter as well as transparency on electricity billing.
- Every consumer has the right to be properly informed and educated on their electricity service.
- It is your right to be notified in writing at least 48 hours ahead of disconnection of electricity service by the DisCo serving you. However, customers must note that this doesn’t apply if the due date on a bill has been elapsed.
- A customer who elects to procure a meter under the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI) Scheme must be metered within 60 days, failure to do so by the serving DisCo means the customer will neither be billed nor disconnected. If you bought a meter under CAPMI and you haven’t received after 60 days, you cannot be billed on estimation or disconnected.
- All un-metered customers should be issued with electricity bills strictly based on NERC’s estimated billing methodology.
- It is your Right to contest any electricity bill. Any unmetered customer who is disputing his/her estimated bill has the Right not to pay the disputed bill, but pay only the last undisputed bill as the contested bill goes through the dispute resolution process of NERC.
- You have the right to a refund when you have been overbilled by your DisCo.
- It is your right as a customer to file complaints and to prompt investigations of these 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 your complaint is not satisfactorily addressed, you can forward it to the NERC Forum Office within the coverage area of your DisCo. Electricity customers also have the right to appeal the decision of the Forum at the Commission (NERC).
- It is NOT the responsibility of an electricity customer or a community to buy, replace or repair electricity transformers, poles and related equipment used in the supply of electricity.
An obligation is a course of action that someone is required to take, whether legal or moral. As electricity customers, to get the best service out of electricity operators, it is important we fulfil the following social obligations:
- Pay bills for electricity consumed. Payments must also be done within the stipulated time frame.
- Provide requirements for connections as stipulated by NERC and your DisCo.
- Vigilantly protect electricity installations. It’s not your right to pay for these installations if they are damaged or need replacing, the DisCo serving you pays but this can affect the DisCo’s service delivery.
- Act cordially towards electricity workers.
- Consumers must comply with requirements of the distribution code.
- Consumers not on prepaid meters ensure receipt of monthly bills and complain to the DisCo serving them if they don’t get their bills.
- You should ensure that meters and other electrical equipment within your premises belonging to your DisCO is not tampered with or by-passed.
- Consumers should notify their DIsCos of any tampering or by-pass of electricity installations.
- Consumers should notify their DisCos of any outstanding electricity bill before moving to new premises.