NERC Orders Refunds for Overcharged Electricity Customers

Directive Issued for Immediate Reimbursement to Band B Users Amid Tariff Disputes

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In a significant development aimed at addressing consumer grievances, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has instructed electricity distribution companies (DisCos) across the nation to issue refunds to customers who were erroneously overcharged under the new tariff system. This move, announced on Saturday, pertains specifically to Band B customers and follows an array of complaints about the unintended application of the N225/KWh rate, a figure reserved for higher usage Band A customers under the latest tariff adjustments introduced in April 2024.

 

The controversy stems from a recent policy shift by the Federal Government, which eliminated subsidies for Band A electricity consumers, thereby revising the financial landscape of Nigeria’s power sector. This revision was expected to impact only Band A users, who benefit from a minimum of 20 hours of electricity supply daily. However, technical glitches during the upgrade of payment platforms by DisCos led to reports of improper billing across Bands B, C, D, and E, prompting intervention by the NERC.

 

In its directive, the NERC outlined specific steps for the DisCos to follow, including the maintenance of newly approved Band A feeders as per the April 2024 supplementary Multi-Year Tariff Order and the dissemination of this information through their official websites. Most critically, the commission has mandated the establishment of an online portal by April 10, 2024, enabling customers to verify their designated bands using meter or account numbers. Those found to have been overcharged are to receive refunds via energy tokens by the deadline of April 11, 2024, with DisCos required to submit compliance evidence to the NERC by the following day.

 

This directive is part of a broader effort by the NERC to ensure transparency and fairness in the implementation of the new tariff regime, aiming to alleviate the financial strain on consumers and restore public confidence in the sector’s billing practices. As the April 11 deadline approaches, the commission has committed to monitoring compliance with these measures closely and continuing to provide necessary support to all stakeholders involved.

 

The issue of electricity tariff hikes has been a contentious one in Nigeria, with many citizens expressing frustration over increased costs and the classification system that determines access to prolonged power supply. This latest directive represents a critical step towards rectifying the immediate concerns associated with the transition to a new tariff structure, highlighting the regulatory body’s responsiveness to consumer feedback and its commitment to enforcing equitable practices within the industry.

 

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