ABUJA: The Federal Government has cleared the air over the misconception by electricity consumers on the Multi-Year Tariff Order, MYTO, saying that the amount has been benchmarked under a five year tariff arrangement.
The Chairman and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr Sam Amadi, made the clarification in Abuja, while speaking against the backdrop of public outcry on fixed charges on electricity bills in the light of low electricity supply.
Besides, he also ordered power distribution companies to monitor, apprehend and detain electricity consumers involved in illegal connection and those who steal power. The government said electricity theft in Nigeria was alarming and was robbing the Discos of huge revenue, a development that had adversely impacted on the power sector.
He said, “When we say that we have not increased tariff, we do not mean that the tariff you paid in 2011 is what you are paying now, rather we mean that the order of the tariff published has not been changed. That is why it is called Multi-Year Tariff Order, MYTO, which simply means that we have benchmarked the cost.”
He further explained that by June 1 of every year, the tariff changes such that there is a tariff for the next five years. He therefore called for customers understanding; saying that distribution companies, DISCOs, should not be accused of increasing tariff arbitrarily with regard to the fixed charges since it has been factored into the MYTO tariff plan.
Amadi said also that the Commission expects a robust metering of customers by the Discos, warning that reckless estimated billing must stop.
According to him, “Someone does not have a meter does not mean that he must be over-estimated. Meters must be read and customers charged accordingly.” He urged distribution companies to fast-track metering of customers, adding, “the Commission wants to see real action.
Amadi used the occasion to appeal to electricity customers to pay their bills and called on those who indulge in electricity theft to desist, and ordered the Discos to punish anyone caught by-passing meter, and be made to pay 50 times what was stolen.
He said, “There is rampant theft of electricity and we have said that the Discos should aggressively monitor, apprehend and report every customer who tampers with meter or steals energy at this crucial moment. Such customer will face the full rigor of both a criminal and civil sanction.
“By criminal, I mean that they will be arrested and prosecuted in the court of law, but as a regulator we have authorised the Discos to disconnect them and to put very punitive sanctions. To reconnect them, they will have to pay about 50 times more than they stole from the network.
“Therefore we urge citizens and consumers not to steal power because it damages the revenue of the Disco and ultimately puts the nation in more darkness.
Already the law allows us to do so and we have regulations that will empower the Discos to drastically deal with customers who are illegally connected or bypassing their meters.”
On gas crisis and how it had worsened power supply, Amadi explained that a new technology has been developed to address the challenge.
He said, “There was a petition for helping out with the gas crisis. You are aware that the gas crisis has made most of the generation plants unable to generate to capacity because of lack of gas supply.
“Today, we got a technology based solution to this from one of the companies. Basically it showed us how we can use compressed gas and through some technology re-diversify it and use it in the power plants. The attraction is that it would avoid the use of gas pipelines and all the associated risks of vandalism.”