NERC Releases More Stringent Sanctions For Unauthorised Access To Electricity, Meter Tampering And By-pass

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has read the riot Act to unauthorized electricity users (also known as illegal connection) and t

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The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has read the riot Act to unauthorized electricity users (also known as illegal connection) and those who tampers with or by-pass its meters. This warning is contained in the Commission’s Order-Order No: NERC/REG/41/2017 issued recently. The Order is in accordance with the Commission’s responsibility under section 32 (1) (b) of Electric Power Sector Reform Act (“EPSRA”) and The Connection & Disconnection Procedures for Electricity Services (“CDPES”) Regulations of 2007.

The Connection & Disconnection Procedures for Electricity Services (“CDPES”) Regulations of 2017 in its Regulation 12 (1)(C), provided for the conditions for reconnecting previously disconnected customers on the ground of unauthorized connections to the distribution network. Under the said Regulation 12 (1)(C), the conditions are merely that such erring customer was merely required to formalize the electricity supply arrangements to the satisfaction of the DisCo and pay (or enter into an agreement for the payment of) an approved reconnection costs to the DisCo.

However, the Commission said in this newly issued Order that it has received complaints from DisCos and has also observed an increase in the incidents of unauthorised access to electricity and meter bypass by customers. Consequently, upon due consideration of the foregoing and the need to reduce unauthorised access to electricity supply by tampering and meter bypass; the Commission has now approved more stringent conditions for reconnecting unauthorised connections as contained in this new order.

The following are the provisions of the Order concerning the Customer:

Reconnection Costs
With the coming into effect of this Order, any customer that gains unauthorised access to electricity by tampering or meter bypass shall be reconnected upon payment of the reconnection costs which shall be 50,000 for first-time offenders and N75,000 for subsequent offenders in Single Phase Residential category; N100,000 for 1st-time offenders and 150,000for subsequent offenders in Three Phase Residential category; 50,000 for 1st-time offenders and 75,000.00 for subsequent offenders in Single Phase Commercial category; 100,000.00 for 1st-time offenders and 100,000 for subsequent offenders in Three Phase Commercial category; and 300 per cent of the last authorized recorded monthly consumption for first-time offenders on Maximum Demand(MD) Meters and 450 per cent of the last authorized recorded monthly consumption for subsequent offenders.

Administrative Charges
In addition to the reconnection cost, erring customers will now have to pay administrative charges ranging from N1,500 to N15,000 depending on the customer’s category.

Payment of back-bills
The Commission further provides that a customer that gains access to electricity by tampering or meter bypass shall, in addition to paying for the reconnection costs and administrative charges, be liable to pay for the loss of revenue by the DisCo for the unauthorized consumption by paying back-bills.

For this purpose, the Commission, authorized DisCos to back-bill customers who gain unauthorized access to electricity. The rate of such back-bill will be the prevailing tariff of the customer for the established period of the unauthorized access.

Meanwhile, the following are expected of all DisCos in respect of reconnection of erring customers:
*Report
There is a responsibility on all DisCos to forthwith, file with the Commission a monthly report of all cases of unauthorized access.
*Delayed reconnection costs

DisCos shall be liable to pay customers ‘delayed reconnection costs’ if they fail to reconnect the customer within 48 hours of the customers’ payment of reconnection costs and administrative charges for unauthorized access to electricity in accordance with Regulation of 11 of CDPES.

DisCos will also be liable to pay customers delayed reconnection costs where the customer was unjustifiably disconnected.
By virtue of the Order, delayed reconnection costs shall be N1,000 for residential grid; N1,500 for Commercial grid; 2,000.00 for Industrial grid; and N 2,000.00 for Special grid per day.

Illegal connection, tampering with or bypass of meter are some of the illicit ways Nigerians consume electricity. This usually transmits to underpayment or non-payment for the electricity consumed.

NERC noted that the various DisCos are in business and aside providing essential services, also need to make profit. ‘While these erring customers consider illegal connection, tampering with or bypass of meter as a way of saving cost, they do not realize that dissipating the resources in this manner comes back to bite the citizens in the butt. This is because the DisCos, having to pay for every kilowatt being supplied to them, may have resulted to estimated bills to ensure they make sufficient fund to pay for the consumed megawatts. This estimated billing has, in no doubt, affected both the erring and innocent customers”, the commission stated.

It said if this new order is properly implemented, it will deter consumers from illegally dealing with electricity. So dear customer, be warned, the law is coming after power thefts!!
-Source: lawpavilion.com

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