Estimated billing can be halted if customers are not around. This was said by NERC officials during the November 27 capacity strengthening session for distribution companies (DisCos) on communication and responsiveness to customers, which was organized by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
According to NERC, many estimated billing customers are not aware that there is a regulation that requires them to inform their DisCo when they will not be around so that their billing can be halted during that period of their absence as their electricity is not in use.
Although many estimated billing customers may not be aware of the regulation highlighted, there are some customers’ rights highlighted by NERC via their official website, which point to sensible billing by DisCos on estimated billing customers across the country.
According to NERC, all new electricity connections must have meters installed before being connected.
They are entitled to a safe and reliable electricity supply and the installation of a properly functioning meter.
The Commission also insists that customers should be informed and educated about their electricity service, with transparent billing applied to all and un-metered customers should receive bills based on NERC’s estimated billing methodology.
According to NERC, written notice is mandatory before any disconnection, and customers have the right to refunds if overbilled, meanwhile, complaints about electricity supply or billing can be directed to the nearest DisCo business unit for prompt investigation.
If unsatisfied, customers can escalate issues to the NERC Forum Office or appeal decisions by petitioning the Commission.
NERC says that customers can contest incorrect electricity bills and in disputes over bills, un-metered customers are not obliged to pay the disputed amount but only the last undisputed bill while the issue undergoes NERC’s dispute resolution process.
The Commission also points out that customers or communities are not responsible for purchasing, replacing, or repairing electricity infrastructure like transformers or poles used in the supply process.
However, it is important to note that several customers who spoke to Nairametrics reveal that settling complaints regarding estimated billing charges and payments is a herculean task as DisCos are putting a lot of customers under undue pressure by refusing to resolve complaints or implement regulatory directives as stipulated by NERC yet face no consequences.
Imoh Heavens, a resident of Akwa Ibom state, shared his experience as a customer with the Port Harcourt Distribution Company (DisCo). He expressed to Nairametrics that DisCo charges un-metered customer rates exceeding the price cap, regardless of the circumstances.
This situation has caused considerable concern among residents who are already grappling with challenging economic conditions.
Despite their complaints, there hasn’t been any relief or resolution to alleviate their financial burdens.