NERC rolls out strict penalties for electricity theft

By Oke Peter

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), has reviewed penalties for electricity customers involved in unauthorised access to electricity supply by tampering and meter bypass by electricity.

The review according to the Commission was undertaken following several complaints it received complaints from the Electricity Distribution Companies (Discos).

According to the circular entitled, “Order on unauthorised access, meter tampering and by-pass order no: NERC/REG/41/2017″, and signed by the Vice chairman of NERC, Alhaji Sanusi Garba and Commissioner, Legal, Licensing & Compliance, Mr. Dafe C. Akpeneye, respectively, authorised the Discos to disconnect unauthorised distribution network.

According to the Commission, “Any single phase residential customer that gains unauthorised access to electricity by tampering or meter bypass shall be reconnected upon payment of the reconnection costs of N50,000 initial and 75,000 for subsequent incidents.

“For three phase residential customers, violators of this order are expected to pay N100,000 for initial incident and fine of N150,000 for subsequent incidents, while single phase commercial would pay N50,000 and N75,000, as well as three phase commercial fine of N100,000 and N100,000, respectively.”

The Commission also noted that “The initial incident of unauthorised access to electricity by tampering or bypassing a Maximum Demand, MD meter shall attract a reconnection cost of 300% of the last authorised recorded monthly consumption of the customer.

Subsequent incidents of unauthorised access to electricity by tampering or bypassing an MD meter shall attract a reconnection cost of 450% of the last authorised recorded monthly consumption of the customer.”

According to NERC, whereas “The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (the “Commission”) is required by section 32 (1) (b) of Electric Power Sector Reform Act (“EPSRA”) to maximise access to electricity services, by promoting and facilitating customer connection to distribution systems in both rural and urban areas.

“The Connection & Disconnection Procedures for Electricity Services (“CDPES”) Regulations of 2007 provide for the connection of customers to electricity distribution networks by distribution companies (“Discos”). Discos are authorised to disconnect unauthorised connections to the distribution network without giving any notice in compliance with Regulation 6 (a) of CDPES.

“The conditions for reconnecting unauthorised connections to the distribution network are provided for Regulation 12 (1)(c) of CDPES and these conditions include, Customers’ formalisation of electricity supply arrangements to the satisfaction of the Discos, payment of approved reconnection costs to the Discos or entering into an agreement for the payment of reconnection costs.

“The Commission has received complaints from Discos and has also observed an increase in the incidents of unauthorised access to electricity and meter bypass by customers.”

“A customer that gains access to electricity by tampering or meter bypass shall in addition to paying for the reconnection costs and administrative charges stated above be liable to pay for the loss of revenue by the Discos for the unauthorised consumption by paying back-bills.

“Discos are authorised to back-bill customers who gain unauthorised access to electricity at the prevailing tariff of the customer for the established period of the unauthorised access. All Discos shall file reports on all cases of unauthorised access to the Commission on a monthly basis,” the order noted.

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