NERC: All customers have the right to a refund when overbilled

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has said that all customers have the right to a refund when overbilled by their respective distribution companies (DisCos).

The Commission shared this insight via an awareness video on its Twitter handle on Friday, July 28.

The Commission’s website also lists all the rights of electricity customers in the country. The rights are outlined as follows:

  • All new electricity connections must be made strictly based on metering before connection. That is, no new customer should be connected by a DisCo without a meter first being installed at the premises.
  • All customers have the right to electricity supply in a safe and reliable manner.
  • All customers have the right to a properly installed and functional meter.
  • All customers have the right to be properly informed and educated about the electricity service.
  • All customers have the 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 before any disconnection of electricity service by the DisCo, following NERC’s guidelines.
  • All customers have the right to receive a refund for overbilling.
  • Customers have the right to file complaints and prompt investigations of complaints regarding electricity supply and other billing issues. They should send all complaints to the nearest business unit of the DisCo serving them.
  • If a complaint is not satisfactorily addressed, customers have the right to escalate the issue to the NERC Forum Office within the coverage area of the DisCo. Furthermore, 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 disputing their estimated bill has the right not to pay the disputed bill. They should only pay the last undisputed bill while the contested bill goes through the dispute resolution process of NERC.
  • Finally, it is not the responsibility of electricity customers or communities to buy, replace, or repair electricity transformers, poles, and related equipment used in the supply of electricity.”

Contrary testimonies

NewsTimes recently came across disgruntled customers who have overbilling issues and have reached out to their DisCos, yet there has been no refund. Mr. Imoh Heavens, an estimated billing customer in Port Harcourt, told NewsTimes that he has been visiting the Port Harcourt distribution company for a prepaid meter and was told to settle his arrears, which did not make any sense.

He said that sometime in 2022, his district had no power supply for 6 months, yet the DisCo brought bills for that period.

He stated further that he cannot pay for what he did not use. He said:

  • “These people are sucking us dry; they only provide prepaid meters to the rich people and those living in the estates. Last I heard, the cost of prepaid meters was N140,000 for the 3-phased and N78,000 for the 2-phased.
  • “How can someone have faith in DisCos and NERC? I have lost faith in them. Are they being regulated? Prior to this time, I was paying N7,000 to N9,000 at most, now it is between N17,000 and N20,000, where will I get the money from?
  • “I see all kinds of directives but are they being implemented? The other time our transformer got bad, it was a rich resident who replaced it for us, the DisCo does not care.”

Meanwhile, an Ikeja resident, Mrs. Christina Aleyideino told NewsTimes that in August 2022, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (Ikeja Electric) suddenly stopped reading post-paid meters calling them obsolete.

Meanwhile, her attempts to get prepaid meter has proved unfruitful.

According to her, the DisCo can send a monthly bill of up to N40,000/month for a family of two people, which is outrageous, considering the level of power consumption that does not tally.

She has made several attempts to make complaints at Ikeja Electric with no success.

She however expressed joy that the National Assembly has taken steps to ensure that overbilling by DisCos is criminalized in the country.

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