Reps to criminalize estimated billing by DisCos

The House of Representatives will soon criminalize estimated billing by electricity distribution companies (DisCos).

The move is coming through a bill sponsored by Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos), which seeks to prohibit the issuance of estimated electricity bill to power consumers across the country.

The bill provides that any such action would be considered as extortion, saying DisCos unilaterally determined the estimation of electricity bill to be paid by consumers in the event that such consumer did not have pre-paid meter.

The Electric Power Sector Reform Act (amendment bill) was read on the floor of the House for the first time in March and will be debated as soon as the House returns from the Easter break next week.

According to a statement by the media aide to the House Leader, Mr. Olanrewaju Smart, the bill became necessary following several complaints from Nigerians, who felt that policy adjustments by the executive cannot arrest the high-handedness of the electricity companies.

The bill seeks to amend the principal Act by creating new sections 68 to 72, which states that (Section 68 -(1)) estimated billing methodology is hereby prohibited in Nigeria.

In subsection (2), it provides that “Every electricity consumer in Nigeria shall apply to the Electricity Distribution Company carrying out business within his jurisdiction for a pre-paid meter and such consumer shall pay the regulated fee for pre-paid meter to be installed in his premises and the Electricity Distribution Company shall within 30 days of receiving the application and payment install the pre-paid meter applied for in the premises of the consumer.”

Another amendment provides that, “If a customer is not metered within 30 days after application has been duly made, the relevant electricity distribution company is prohibited from refusing to connect the customer or disconnect the customer in the event that the customer has been connected or estimate his bills.”

The bill has also recommended six months imprisonment for officials of relevant electricity distribution company found guilty of illegal disconnection, refusal to connect a customer after application, metering within 30 days of a customer applying for a pre-paid meter and issuance of estimated billing.