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Complaints over outages, high bills persist with 4,000mw grid

By on March 28, 2017

The national electricity grid has sustained a peak generation of over 4,000 megawatts (mw) in the past weeks. It rose to 4,452mw last Wednesday with a transmitted energy of 90,983 megawatt hour (mwh); as at weekend, the peak generation was 4,093mw.

In spite of this, complaints over power outages, load shedding (rationing) and high estimated bills have not dropped among many electricity consumers, Daily Trust has observed.

Our reporters sampled the views of some customers in Abuja, Nasarawa, Benue, Kano and Kaduna states on the power supply situation and energy bills.

The responses mostly show that the power Distribution Companies (DisCos) handling such places have continued with the same load shedding pattern that existed when the grid shuttled between 2,000mw and 3,500mw.

Data at the Nigeria System Operator (NSO) website showed that peak generation dropped to 4,242mw by Thursday.

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) still wheeled over 84,000mwh to the DisCos. Indicating that the DisCos got higher quantum of energy than when they got less than 55,000mwh in February 2017 when generation dropped to -3,000mw.

An energy analyst and advocate, Yakubu Oche, in Makurdi, Benue State said Jos DisCo’s quantum of energy yesterday was enough to give even some rural areas up to 12 hours supply but observed that the outage persisted, especially for areas that were largely under the estimated billing system.

He said: “The trend for the DisCo in Benue State is to continually load-shed in communities that are largely under estimated billing.”

Another customer, Mr. Mike Ojechi, a commercial customer in Kaduna metropolis said the trend was consistent with Kaduna DisCo in the state.

Ojechi who operates a frozen food warehouse said he saw no improvement in power supply as he mostly ran on generators but got huge bills monthly.

He wondered why he would get billed for 30 days when the DisCo did what he called ‘a day on, and another day off’ power rationing in his area.

Daily Trust observed that the trend is similar in Abuja, Nasarawa and Niger states, under the Abuja DisCo. Customers are served with estimated bills bearing energy cost for 30 days when power is often supplied for less than 15 days.

Resident Malik Yohanna, a customer, said he had raised the issue severally with the Mararaba Service Centre of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) under Nasarawa State but had seen no change in billing.

Also, a hotelier, Mr. Johnson Chima in Nyanya – Abuja, called on the regulatory body in the power sector to check the billing done by all the DisCos.

“The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) must check these acts of exploitation of people under the estimated billing method,” he urged.

While this trend of load shedding has continued even with the rise in generation, the occasional skyrocketing of bills has been felt by many customers of the various DisCos.

A residential customer, Jamila Dauda, in the Jahi District of Abuja raised an alarm recently when her bills rose to N22,800 from about N6,000 the previous month.

Her crime, it was said, she used 29.8mwh daily, totalling 894kwh in February alone. An engineer in the electricity supply industry in Abuja, Lawal Haruna, who roughly audited the consumption load, explained that it was hard to consume such energy quantum with a moderate residential load comprising just electronics, few light points and an AC, even at 48 hours constant supply. Surprisingly, Jamila said her neighbours got bills that were less – N9,000 and even below – in the same estate.

Addressing the complaint of high estimated billing, the Managing Director of Abuja DisCo, Engr. Ernest Mupwaya, while commissioning a service centre in Kabusa area of Abuja, said such offices being expanded across communities under the franchise areas were meant to help customers verify and resolve such complaints.

Responding to customers’ complaints on load shedding and high bills, Mupwaya said: “I assure customers that there is concerted effort to have incremental power. If we are allocated more energy, the issues of load shedding will start reducing.”

As an effort to address complaints of high estimated billing, the AEDC boss said the firm was beginning to roll out ‘transformer meters’ across communities.

“Metering local transformers in the community means that, at the level of transformers one is accurately being billed based on energy consumed.

“We think it is an interim solution, and where we have done it (in Abuja), it was well received by the customers,” Mupwaya explained.