As a Nigerian electricity consumer, the law is clear regarding some of your basic rights to electricity consumption in the country. Knowledge of these basic rights will equip you in preventing their violations, and where violated, will assist you in identifying the type of remedy to seek to that effect.
So, what are these rights?
Before proceeding to listing these rights, it is expedient to mention that the NERC, which is the statutory agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria that regulates and manages electricity supply and consumption in the country, is empowered by the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act, to ensure an efficiently managed electricity supply industry that meets the yearnings of Nigerians for stable, adequate and safe electricity supply.
Incidentally, the Act further mandates the Commission to ensure that electricity Operators recover costs on prudent investment and provide quality service to customers.
It now behoves on us to ascertain whether or not these duties saddled upon the agency are being met.
Let’s consider some of these rights.
All new electricity connections must be done strictly based on metering before connection. That is, no new customer should be connected by a DisCo without a meter first being installed at the premise:
As a potential prospective consumer of electricity, it is your right to have a meter installed in your premises before any electricity connection should be made. You have the right to request for an installation of meter for free. Where there is no such installation and electricity is connected to the subject matter premises, any bill brought in respect thereto will be considered as illegal. Please note that this right does not extend to people who, by illegal or unauthorized means, got their connection.
All customers have a right to electricity supply in a safe and reliable manner:
As an electricity consumer, it is your right to enjoy a stable and safe electricity supply. By stable manner, it means that you are to enjoy uninterrupted power supply, and where there is a failure, outage or unavoidable interruption in that regard, the defaulting DisCo is expected to responsibly notify its customers (the consumers) ahead and tender due apologies for its shortcoming.
By safe manner, it simply states that you should not lose any of your property or electronics or anyone as a result of faulty or dangerous electricity or power supply or interruptions. Where for instance, your TV blows up as a result of power surge during supply or interruption, such a consumer is entitled to recover damages against the DisCo, for example, Ikeja Electric.
This right also does not cover consumers who procured their connections illegally or through unauthorized means.
All customers have a right to a properly installed and functional meter:
Every consumer is entitled to have a well functional meter which must accurately read the quantum of electricity consumed by the individual consumer. Where there is no such functional meter, the DisCo in charge is prohibited from accessing consumption based on estimation except if such estimated billing falls within the stipulations of the NERC.
All customers have a right to be properly informed and educated on the electricity service:
It is the consumer’s right to be properly informed and educated on issues relating to electricity services. As was earlier said, it is the right of the consumer to know the reasons for a power outage. It is also the right of the customer to be properly guided on how to avoid electricity risks among other things.
All customers have a right to transparent electricity billing.
No consumer’s billing must be shrouded in secrecy; every consumer has the right to know how his billing came to be. Every billing, whether estimated or metered must be transparent to the consumer otherwise the consumer shall reserve the right to contest such billing.
All Un-metered customers should be issued with electricity bills strictly based on NERC’s estimated billing methodology:
For consumers that do not have meters, your estimated billing must be assessed using the methodology recommended by the NERC on estimated billing.
It is the customer’s right to be notified in writing ahead of disconnection of electricity service by the DisCo serving the customer in line with NERC’s guidelines:
This is one of the most frequently violated rights. This right simply states that where Ikeja Electric or IBDC etc. is coming to disconnect you for whatever reason, the regulation stipulates that you are entitled to a one-month written Notice before such disconnection will be valid and legal. Anything other than that is a breach of your right to which you the right to lodge a formal complaint to the DisCo serving the customer, where the company refuses to act, to NERC via the appropriate channel.