Discos disconnect govt, security agencies over N93b debt
Generation dips, Benin utility mulls new billing system
Nigeria may be heading for a deeper power sector crisis following mass disconnection of historic debtors by all the distribution companies (Discos) to protest the huge unpaid electricity bills by this class of consumers.
This came as power generation at the weekend slumped further to 2,367 Mega Watts (MW), from about 4196 MW recorded last month. The new energy output level was recorded after the national grid rose from a system collapse that brought generation down to 104 MW last Thursday, according to statistics from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Executive Director of the Association of Nigeria Electricity Distributors (ANED), Mr. Sunday Oduntan, said member-companies had to carry out its threat when it became “obvious that there is nothing on the table.”
“For now, all historic debtors, including residential, commercial, industrial and government establishments across the three tiers of government would have to find alternative means of electricity supply until this debt issue is resolved,” Oduntan said in a statement.
He further explained that “as at last calculation, government establishments, including the military and security agencies alone are owing the Discos some ₦93 billion. The figure comprises ₦39.1 billion pre-privatisation of electricity assets and ₦39.5 post-privatisation. Also thrown into the debt calculation is the outstanding interest of ₦15 billion which the Bulk Trader charges Discos for late payment of their electricity bills, a situation that occurred as a result of non-settlement of electricity bills as at when due.”
Oduntan stated that the operations of all Discos companies are hampered by huge indebtedness by these historic debtors. “Government establishments, comprising ministries, departments, military formations, security agencies owe each distribution company as follows:
Abuja DISCO, ₦18.6 billion; Eko DISCO, ₦8.6 billion; Kaduna, ₦8.2 billion; Enugu- ₦7.2 billion; Ibadan- ₦6.8 billion; Ikeja, ₦5.9 billion; Port Harcourt, ₦6.8 billion; Benin-₦5.8 billion; Jos-₦6.5 billion; Yola, ₦2.4 billion; and Kano, ₦1.2 billion.”
The DISCOs had two weeks ago given those they referred to as ‘historic debtors’ deadlines within which to pay their debts or have their electricity supply disconnected.
“Although we appreciate the efforts of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, but the stark reality is that there is nothing concrete to hold on to. No allowance for MDAs debt to DISCOs in the budget, even though we started discussion before the budget was passed. The indebtedness has become so huge that we are truly troubled about how the government would resolve this without a budgetary allocation, ” Oduntan added.
Meanwhaile, the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) has expressed its determination to complete the migration of its customers to a new billing system that would foster better billing information.
In a statement at the weekend, the BEDC said the new billing system tagged, “Electricity Billing Management System (EBMS)” had commenced for all Maximum Demand (MD) customers and other categories of customers in Edo State since March this year. “Customers in Delta, Ondo and Ekiti states will be moved to the new billing format effective April 2016,” the statement read in part.
Sensitising the customers on the new billing system, the BEDC said: “Reading of customers’ meter is expected to be done monthly or at least once in three months. But whenever a reading is not done in any month, an adjustment will be used with the subsequent reading.
“Also, where a customer’s meter is found to be obsolete or incorrect, the meter reading will be suspended and direct/estimated billing will be utilised prior to the replacement of the meter. Such suspension will be notified to the customer via a letter.
“All customers under estimated billing will have their estimation done based on NERC-approved cluster billing average methodology. Where bypass is noticed during meter reading and/or billing period, the read information may be suspended and customer billed appropriately on Direct/Estimated using NERC cluster billing methodology,” it added.