INVESTIGATION: Electricity consumers grumble as DisCos abandon provision of transformers, others
…Discos’ ineptitude with figures affects information on transformers
Seven years after Nigerian government handed over the operations of the distribution of electricity to private sector, consumers are still left with the responsibility of providing electricity infrastructure for themselves.
Investigations carried out by EnergyDay showed that Electricity Distribution Companies also known as DisCos have abandoned the responsibility of buying items such as electric poles, repair, replacement of transformers, cable and related equipment used in the supply of electricity to the consumers.
The report showed that despite overwhelming electricity costs passed on to customers by the DisCos through estimated billings and discriminative charges on prepaid meters, the DisCos have refused to compensate or give incentives to consumers who incurred extra expenses on the acquisition of power equipment – a responsibility which is solely that of the electricity distribution firms.
The Consumer Right & Obligations Rules of the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act, 2005, obtained from NERC, says, “It is not the responsibility of electricity customers or community to buy, replace or repair electricity transformers, poles and related equipment used in the supply of electricity.”
Evidently, the details of this NERC’s provision places the responsibility of procurement of power equipment used in the supply of electricity on the DisCos and not on consumers. EnergyDay in this report established that the reverse is the case as most of the locations visited by our correspondents revealed that customers as being responsible for the provision of these power equipment, while those who can not raise money to get new transformers have to depend on old transformers, mostly inherited by the DisCos from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
Some Community Development Associations (CDAs) and individuals who spoke with EnergyDay, disclosed at various times in the past, they were forced to tax themselves to raise money for the procurement of electrical equipment, after waiting for many months and years for the DisCos to replace the bad transformers to no avail.
Asked if the DisCos promised a compensation for the communities even after energizing the new transformers, the CDAs said that on the contrary, since they were the ones who chose to buy the transformers, they were asked by the DisCos to sign an agreement handing over the facilities to them, a condition which they willingly consented to since they had no other options.
Speaking on the compensation, the CDAs disclosed that after energizing the transformers, the communities would still contend with the persistent issue of crazy billing, thereby placing more financial burdens on them. They revealed that most of these issues have been escalated to the NERC’s Forum offices within the coverage areas of the DisCos, without tangible response.
Some of the DisCos who spoke with our correspondent, disregarded the claims by the electricity consumers. According to them, most customers’ complaints and requests for transformers are being addressed based on first-come-first-serve basis, and the size of allocations for procurement of infrastructure.
Recall that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had in May, 2021, approved N756.74 billion Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) for the all the eleven DisCos for infrastructure upgrade across their networks within the next five years of Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).
In that order signed by Engr. Sanusi Garba, NERC Chairman, and Dafe Akpeneye, Commissioner for Legal, Licencing and Compliance of NERC, in April 29, 2021, the approved PIP was expected to take effect by July 1, 2021 and end by June 30, 2026.
Ikeja DisCo (IKEDC) got N121.9billion to implement its network improvement target, while Kaduna DisCo (IKEDC) got N114billion target; Eko DisCo got N93.76billion expenditure.
Benin DisCo- N93.5billion, Ibadan DisCo- N91.1billion, Abuja DisCo got N75.98billion, Port Harcourt got N75.5billion.
Enugu DisCo – N67.4billion, Kano DisCo-N63.1billion, Jos DisCo got N47.2billion. The Yola DisCo got N27.3billion being the lowest for the procurement of transformers and other electricity infrastructure.
Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC)
Under the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company’s network, a Community Development Association (CDA) in Ilepa Community, Ifo Local Government Area, in March, contributed money to purchase a 500KVA transformer, which had been energised by IBEDC, after the community handed over the transformer to the Disco.
The CDA Chairman, who would not want his name in print told our reporter that, after waiting for almost a year without electricity in the community, the residents decided to contribute N20,000 per building to purchase the transformer.
In the same vein, residents of Bosun CDA under Ifo local Government, told our correspondent that since March 2021 when their 300KVA transformer went bad, efforts to get the IBEDC to replace it has proved abortive.
According to the CDA Chairman, Mr. Ayeni Oladele, “We have taken this matter to the IBEDC Service Unit in Ifo. They told us that they do not have the capacity to replace the transformer because most of the customers are owing them. They asked us to raise money to replace the transformer if we needed electricity this year as there was no guarantee for a replacement.”
Oladele said that the residents have been asked to contribute around N20,000 per building to purchase same. He promised that before the end of the year, the community will have its own transformer.
Our correspondent who monitored the situation in Ibafo, recorded widespread purchase of transformers by CDAs and landlords. Residents of Araromi Idera Community, in Ibafo area under Obafemi Owode Local Government Area, in Ogun state, told EnergyDay that they purchased their 500KVA transformer at a cost of N9.6 million with installation, after a long wait for IBEDC between August 2020 and February 2021.
In another part of Ibafo, residents of Fehintoluwa, another community also claimed that they purchased and installed their community’s 500KVA in 2019, at a cost of N5.2million without compensation from IBEDC.
In the neighbouring Alhaji Hussein Close, Akoka area of Ibafo, Ogun State, residents also said they purchased and installed their 200KVA transformer in 2020, after months of waiting for IBEDC to improve power situation in the community at the rate of N3.2million.
Another community, Titilope/Ajileja, in Ibafo stated that they contributed money house by house to purchase and install their 300KVA transformer in 2021 at the cost of N2.35million.
Further findings by our correspondent showed that residents of various communities, including Araromi Idera/Sowo, St. Michael 1 &2, Lau Junction Ebute Road (Surulere/Odidere/Oluwole/Lusan CDAs), and Kwara Quarters CDA, all in Ibafo, made similar claims of purchasing transformers respectively, at different occasions between 2018 and 2019, after waiting for IBEDC to energize the communities.
IKEJA ELECTRIC PLC
Tayo Olowu, a resident of Teju Royal Estate in Isheri Ijegun Community, under Ikeja Electric distribution network in a virtual chat with EnergyDay, stated that the two transmission feeder pillars in the community collapsed due to heavy down pour which occurred earlier in June. The issue has not been fixed as at the time of filing this report. He however alleged that a staff of IKEDC asked the CDA to raise around N200,000 to fix the issue.
Mr. Kachy Ibeh Imanuel a customer under Ikeja Electric, disclosed that residents of Orelope community in Oke-Oko area, Ikorodu, Lagos, have been living without electricity since January 2021, and up till date, I.E has refused to replace their faulty transformer. He noted that the community has been asked to raise money to buy a new transformer.
Mr. Oladosu Samuel, a resident of Nurudeen Eletu Close, off Isuti Road, Igando, Egan, Lagos, in a chat with our correspondent, also stated that his community has been in total blackout for months. He noted that appeal has been made by the CDA to the DisCo’s undertaking office in Igando, without response. He claimed that the CDA has opted to raise money to buy a new transformer.
Mr. Abioro Ebenezer, a resident of Okungbolu area, Agbado Gas line, under Orudu Are CDA, under the Ikeja DisCo’s network, in a phone conversation with our correspondent, claimed that his community has been without electricity for months due to its faulty transformer. He claimed that the CDA asked residents to contribute N15,000 per building to purchase and install 500kva transformer. He added that the CDA also paid for armoured cable, aluminium conductor and service charge for installations to agents of the DisCo who were sent to do the installation.
Haji Bash Ibrahim, a resident of Alhaja Shifau Agege, said the community has been in blackout for almost four months due to activities of criminals who stole cables from the community’s transformer.
“We have asked I.E to help us replace the cables but nothing has since been done. The only option available is for us to buy a cable, and residents have started contributing towards this,” he said.
Mr. Okelarin Abiodun, who is the CDA Chairman of Agbowa Ibeshe Community, in a mail sent to EnergyDay said, “Our community purchased transformers and other electrical accessories to power some sections in our community, without reimbursement from IKEDC. This happened recently. All evidence available for your perusal. We spent millions of Naira to purchase and install the transformers, without any compensation by the DisCos.”
Olusegun Onabajo, a community leader in Osere who spoke with our correspondent, bemoaned the attitude of Ikeja Discos in respect of attending to the plight of the customers in Matogun. He added that the CDA has been responsible for the purchase of electricity conductors, transformers and other accessories in Matogun, Olambe and Oke-Aro, all under ljaye undertaking.
He said, “The Osere part of Matogun has never enjoyed power supply because of load shedding and there are just few transformers serving the entire community.”
ENUGU ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
EnergyDay correspondent who monitored the official Facebook platform of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) stumbled upon a complaint posted by one Mr. Fidelis Nwosu, a resident of Orji Catholic Mission in Owerri, Imo state.
According to him, “Our transformer was removed for repairs by EEDC officials for over one year. The entire community has been living in darkness since then, without hope. The only option available is for us to buy a new transformer.”
Another EEDC’s customer, Nonso Nteje, who resides in Mount Street, Awkunanaw, Enugu State, on the same Facebook platform said, ”For over a month, our transformer was removed by the officials of EEDC for repair; it has not been returned and there is no sign that it will be returned anytime soon. We have complained severally but have been advised to exercise patience or contribute to get a new one.
Samuel Sanchiz, a resident of Ncheke, Umuchigbo Nike, Enugu State, said, “For the past four months, the community transformer was removed due to faults. After months of blackouts, we have been asked to contribute money to buy a new one.
EKO ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION COMPANY(EKEDC)
Quite a significant number of customers under the network of EKEDC depend on private transformers which they use to power their homes amidst persistent collapses of public transformers, dotting the whole of Lekki, Ikoyi and other communities under the network.
Investigations conducted by EnergyDay, showed that residents of Lekki, Ikoyi and others on Service Band A areas who are supposed to be allotted, at least twenty (20) hours of electricity supply, have been struggling with epileptic power supply because of the obsolete and faulty transformers dotting the entire estates. Some who could not cope with persistent load shed by the EKEDC, have decided to buy private transformers to power their homes and offices.
Our correspondent who visited areas, including Admiralty Way, Ikate, Chisco, Agungi, Mayfair Garden Estate, Elf, and Elegushi, recorded plights of customers complaining about faulty and old transformers which they claimed have limited capacity to meet the growing needs of the ever-growing residents.
Residents of Dr. Obafemi Alibaba Street, Shaffi Sule and Ogunaike Street, all on Admiralty Way, who spoke with our correspondent, disclosed that due to the obsolete nature of public transformers and the refusal of the management of Eko Electricity Distribution Company to replace them, most of them have opted for private transformers with low capacities such as 25kVA, to connect to the national grid.
As a result, some estate owners and residents have decided to purchase 25 kVA transformers to power their homes, while some estate developers have opted for 500kva to power houses within their estates.
Residents of Daniyan Natalia and Adebisi Ogunniyi Crescent in Lekki, revealed that, despite the improvement of power supply to the area, the DisCo has been applying the load shedding method to ration the supply. Residents who could not cope with this method which does not guarantee constant supply, have resorted to purchasing private transformers, to power their homes.
Timothy Nnamdi told our correspondent that four transformers have been brought to the Ikota Housing Estate community in Ajah within a year, and all four have gone bad. He disclosed that the residents association have continued to appeal to EKEDC, to find a lasting solution to the persistent blackout.
According to Lawal Moruf, a resident of Awoyaya in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, faulty transformer is the major reason for the poor power situation in the community. He urged EKEDC to consider the plight of the residents who depend on electricity to carry out their businesses.
The situation was the same among residents of Ajah, Idado Lekki, Ologolo, Osapa, Lekki, and other suburb communities in Ibeju-Lekki – they all attributed epilectic power supply to faulty transformers in the areas.
BENIN ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION COMPANY (BEDC)
A BEDC customer, Chidi Udeagananwu, disclosed that residents of Okpanama Bypass, Benin City, Edo State, have been struggling with poor electricity supply because the whole community depends on only one transformer. According to him the community has been in darkness and residents have been asked to tax themselves, to buy transformers and energize the whole community.
Iyare Kelvin said, “The transformer belonging to residents of Second Federal Community, off Edaiken Primary School Road, Uselu Benin, Edo State, was taken away by BEDC officials for almost three months.
John Ekwuabu, a resident of Okpanam Community, Asaba, Delta State, disclosed that the CDA and landlords bought all the electricity poles and cables in the community.
“We raised around N500,000 to refurbish the vandalized transformers bought by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and we were forced to pay the EEDC officials before the transformer was energized.
“Residents of Okpanam Community, Asaba, Delta State, have raised money to buy transformers for themselves,” Ekwuabu said.
He added that the community is also responsible for the maintenance of substations and, despite that, BEDC has refused to energize the entire area.
Engr. Ejiofor Ugochukwu, in a statement obtained by Energyday, alleged that BEDC has derived pleasure from exploiting the people of Asaba and its environs.
“At the end of the month they bring estimated bills and force consumers to pay or you will be disconnected without a disconnection notice. The oppression is extremely much,” he said.
He also said, “Despite the millions of Naira the community has raised to support the DisCo, we have been subjected to one hour of electricity supply, between 4:00am and 5am; 6pm to 7pm; 11pm to 12noon, over a long period of time at will.”
House of Representatives (HOR) Bill for DisCos to Refund Customers
Meanwhile, a bill is presently before the House of Representatives, seeking to make DisCos refund customers who use their money to buy electricity assets. The bill which has passed second reading was titled “A bill for an Act to Amend the Electric Power Sector Reforms Act to Provide for Electricity Distribution Companies to Reimburse any Power Consumer Who Incurs Expenses in the Acquisition and Maintenance of Electricity Apparatus Connected to the National Grid in Nigeria; and for Related Matters (HB. 287)”. It is being sponsored by Hon. Ben Rollands Igbakpa, representing Ethiope Federal Constituency of Delta State.
Hon Igbakpa while speaking on the bill said, “DisCos, who have free access to incentive or subsidy from government’s power consumer assistance fund, have with impunity, continued to rip the consumers of their resources. Faulty transformers are supposed to be replaced by the DisCo within forty-eight hours from when the official complaint is being made. The DisCo is responsible for such replacements or repairs.
“However, if the DisCo is unable to speedily replace the faulty transformer, residents or consumers may go into discussions with the company and agree on the terms of the replacement of the affected transformer if they so wish to assume the responsibility of the company.
”While the equipment purchased by the customers may have been integrated into the electricity system or grid automatically as the property of the DisCo, the Bill seeks to amend the Electric Power Sector Reform Act to provide for the DisCos to reimburse any power consumer who incurs expenses in the acquisition and maintenance of electrical apparatus connected to the national grid.”
He however disclosed that the bill, when passed will address the continued negligence on the part of DisCos to speedily respond to electricity distribution complaints and replace any faulty electricity apparatus, as well as ensure that when consumers undertakes such tasks, they are adequately reimbursed and compensated.
Mr. Ayeni Akinola, the Manager, External Communication and Media Relations for Ikeja Electric Plc, in an exclusive chat with EnergyDay, disclosed that it is not the statutory responsibility of the electricity customers to buy transformers for themselves.
He said, “Ikeja Electric buys transformers for its customers. Some of these issues arise most times because we are the largest power distribution network in the country, serving over 700,000 registered customers within the Lagos mainland and some parts of Ogun State.
“We cover the whole of six business units, some of which include Ikorodu Business Unit (Ikorodu, Agbowa, Epe and other areas); Somolu Business Unit (Somolu, Ketu, Ojota, Bariga, Ilaje, Mile 12, Ikosi and others); Akowonjo Business Unit (Alimosho area), Abule Egba (Ojodu, Alagbole, Akute, Ishaga up to Ijoko) Ikeja Business Unit (Ikeja, Ogba, Allen, GRA), then Oshodi Business Unit (Oshodi, Isolo, Amowo Odofin, Okota, Oke Alfa, Egan). So many transformers serve these areas.
“Every day our customers complain about transformers, aluminum conductors, reinforcement of the network, metering and other issues, all at the same time. There is no way we can attend to all of these responsibilities at the same time. If there are about ten different requests for transformers, what we usually do is to attend to, at least, five in that particular month and the rest are being attended to, as soon as we have resources to cater for that. We do this so that we can attend to other logistic issues and repairs.
“We give room for customers who could not wait until it is their turn, to buy transformers for themselves, and then invite us to energize it. That is how the issue of self-purchase usually comes up.
“Some communities are usually given transformers by the state and local governments, and others philanthropists, including the Lagos State Electricity Board. So, when that happens, they need to officially write to us so that we can assist in commissioning their transformers.
“So, it is not like we are denying them their right to get transformers from us. No. But, because of the enormous requests for transformers, we have to prioritize the distribution, bit-by-bit. If we decide to face the issue of transformers alone, other aspects of our activities would suffer. So, we have to balance it so as to smoothen other critical operational demands.
“When customers rush to the media to complain that they purchased the transformers themselves, they create a wrong impression because we did not ask them to purchase the transformers. They did that because they cannot wait for their turn to receive from us; we cannot also stop them from buying them.
When asked if there is a compensation or incentive for customers who procure transformers for themselves, the I.E’s spokesperson said, “Well, as much as we could, there could be a form of encouragement from us, but customers should not expect to stop paying electricity bills simply for purchasing transformers.
“You know, energy comes directly from the national grid as it does not belong to DisCos. It’s more like we are buying from the transmission company (TCN). We appreciate the fact that some of them purchase transformers and we come and energize them, because that equally benefits our system, but there are other critical issues to be attended to than transformers. Don’t forget that there are also communities that don’t even have transformers at all – we have to attend to them first, to ensure there’s a balance. You can’t just apply for a transformer today and expect that we should leave those who had applied about two months ago, and attend to you first.”
According to Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company’s (IBEDC) Head, Corporate Communications and Strategy, Mrs Angela Olarenwaju, “Most times, these customers go ahead to buy transformers without carrying DisCos along. They just contribute money and purchase them. Sometimes, their CDAs use those opportunities to extort as they sometimes allege that it was the IBEDC that asked the communities to contribute, even when we are not aware. It is the DisCo, and not its customers, that knows which transformers need repairs or replacement.
“Communities that need transformers are supposed to write to us officially, as opposed to requesting verbally. This is because we have standards regarding transformer procurement. Sometimes, they purchase the wrong transformers that we are not able to energize, and they start complaining that they bought transformers but we have refused to energize them. This is often not correct because we have specifications for our network.
“This is a highly technical industry. Another thing customers don’t know is that, the cost of purchasing a transformer is only one-quarter of our total expenditure on installation and energisation of power system. What they don’t know is that we spend the other three-quarter on energizing the transformer at our cost.
“But, when customers carry out some purchase without adequate documentation, then we may be finding it difficult to actually determine appropriate compensations for them over the purchase of the equipment.
“When cases like that happen, we expect customers to make an official request. They will then have to wait to get feedback from us after the documentation. So, if there is need for compensation or any other thing, that is when discussions would take place.”
Asked if it is the duty of customers to procure transformers for themselves without compensation, the IBEDC’s Head of Communication said, “Quite enough, there is a regulation on NERC’s website, addressing what should happen when customers purchase the transformers for themselves.
“We don’t blame them for their inability to wait for the period that it would take us to get them a replacement. The Discos are struggling with a lot of challenges at the moment especially as it relates with Aggregate Technical, Commercial, and Collections Loss (ATC&C).
“Most of our customers are not paying their bills quite enough, and there is nothing much we can do to attend to infrastructure requests, because we will still need the funds to reinvest and maintain these facilities.
“Customers also need to understand that we do get a lot of requests for transformer. We respond to them on first-come-first-serve basis. We do understand that some customers may not have the patience to wait their turn.”
When asked about the data of transformers that have been released to the customers on request, the IBEDC’s spokesperson asked our reporter to send mail to the official mail of the DisCo for further response, claiming that it would be difficult to give the data as at the time of having this conversation.
Mr. Babatunde Rasak, Assistant General Manager, Corporate Communication , Eko Electricity Distribution Company, while reacting to the issue disclosed that Eko DisCo has never instructed any community or customer under its network to buy cable or transformer.
“We usually tell customers at every forum organized by NERC, that we have a lot of requests from different customers for transformers. We work with our budget and can’t provide 20-30 transformers at a time if requested. So, we usually employ the first-come-first-serve approach.
“What some of these communities do is to request for the donation of transformers from politicians while others contribute money to purchase transformers.
“In Eko DisCo, we recognize this gesture of donating transformers as a form of partnership with customers. This is a welcome development, which doesn’t really translate to asking customers to go and source for transformers on their own.
“At some of our customer relations meetings, when customers approach me concerning their earlier requests for the transformers, I usually ask them to exercise patience as we have a lot of requests and also work with budget.
“Since they could not wait any longer for us to get them one, they would write to us informing us of their plans to contribute and purchase transformers. So, if an individual or community decides to donate the transformer to Eko DisCo, we will welcome that gesture. But how do you expect us to incentivize or compensate them because they donated transformers?
“It’s difficult to do that because we didn’t ask them to purchase or donate the transformer. The only compensation is to energize the facility and guarantee them more supply as and when due. This is our commitment to all customers under our network. Whenever there is a fault on any transformer, our team is always available 24 hours to respond.
Asked to give figure of number of transformers that have been released to the customer within five years of taking over the asset of defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the EKEDC’s spokesperson said, “I can’t state that offer because that can only work if you already have a specific number of transformers that communities must request, yearly.”
He said, “No community under Eko DisCo can claim that they do not have a transformer. We only get complaints about either faulty or old transformers, which we do promise to replace. But in the last three months, we have executed quite a number of capital projects and NERC/CBN has approved CAPEX for infrastructure on our network. With this fund available, we are going to be installing a large number of transformers, across all our network and install more sub-stations.
When EnergyDay particularly asked if load shedding as claimed by residents of Lekki phase 1 and others on Band A, was as a result of the poor state of transformers in the area, the Eko Disco spokesperson disclosed that priorities are given to areas based on their tariff bands viz Tariff Band A, B, C, D and E.
He said, “There is specific duration of electricity supply to every of bands. Band A and B cannot be experiencing same number of supply hours like others. Tariff Band A gets, at minimum, 20 hours electricity supply daily.
“To guarantee regular, uninterrupted and equal supply of electricity in Nigeria, we need about 40,000 Megawatt. Unfortunately, generation capacity is less than 10,000MW. How do you expect every household to have electricity at the same time at that low capacity? So, those in Tariff Band B don’t get as much power as Tariff Band A. If the GenCos could generate more power, the DisCos would in turn distribute more electricity to our customers.
“That would, in fact, be in our best interest because the more electricity customers use, the higher our earnings. This is the reason for the commitment to getting all our customers metered. So, I don’t think Eko DisCo will deliberately cut down electricity supply to customers.
“It is also important to note that there are some areas that must experience load shedding. In some areas, for instance, a transformer might have been connected to about 300-500 households, but as development continues in such area, the transformers would be overloaded.
“So, to avoid their total collapse, we used to regulate the activities of these facilities through load shedding, until we could provide the communities with bigger transformers. In some areas, they don’t have any issue with transformers – they only need sub-stations. That is the reason for our on-going Capex project, to take care of majority of those areas. It is not a 2-3 weeks project. It’s a project that will take about 3-6 months. We’ve started and we are not going to relent,” the Eko Disco Communication officer disclosed.
The National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) denied allegations that customers have been petitioning the Commission, noting that most of the customers have been interfacing with the NERC Forum Office which is a membership body of key stakeholders in the electricity downstream sector, set up by Commission to entertain appeals from decisions of the Customer Complaints Unit (CCU) of DisCos.
According to Michael Faloseyi, Head Corporate Affairs, NERC, most of the complaints have not been officially directed to NERC Headquarters. They have rather been directed to the Forums Offices that are simply offices for the settlement of electricity distributor related cases.
He however directed our correspondent to Dr. Usman Abba-Arabi, NERC’s General Manager, Public Affairs, who didn’t respond to several calls made to his line including messages .
Dr. Godwin Orovwiroro, former Head of Customer Services/Regional Head, Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED), who is now the Managing Director/Chief Executive, Winman Nigeria Limited, an energy consulting firm, disclosed that there is need to review third party’s (customer’s) investment in the electricity market, given the dynamic nature of the industry, stressing that there’s need to carry out a review, because a lot of the operational variables are changing and have changed significantly.
According to him, “There is a regulation for such engagement between customers and the DisCos, perhaps it might have to be reviewed. That regulation talks about individuals who want to invest in the network. But that is like a network extension.
“If you have an area that is already been served, there’s equipment failure and customers are in good stand paying their electricity bills at and when due, they are not supposed to bear the cost of the replacement of the equipment – the DisCos are.
“However, if the DisCos are complaining that they do not have the resources to do it, customers can enter into agreement with DisCos to do it. There’s a provision – a regulation by NERC – that talks about third parties who want to invest in the network. So, that regulation backs that up,” he responded.
Reacting to this issue, Mr. Adetayo Adegbemle, Founder and Executive Director of PowerUp Nigeria, an Electricity Consumer Rights and Advocacy Group, said that it is the duty of the DisCos to provide transformers in communities to which they distribute power. He added that customers can get a refund from NERC if they report any case of self-purchase to the regulatory body.
“Customers buying or repairing transformers themselves is actually primarily as a result of the failure of DisCos to buy or repair transformers on time for such communities.
“Another reason that leads to this is the lack of knowledge of the new regulatory/business structure of the Discos. I have argued it before that nobody goes to buy Automatic Teller Machines for Banks.
“Discos are private entities that are responsible for the purchase, installation and repairs of power infrastructure for the last mile distribution of electricity to consumers.
“In most instances that we have seen, no such agreement exists between the DisCos and consumers, to buy or repair transformers. And even in the instance that such community makes such purchase, DisCos usually ask them to write that such transformers are donated to their network, by that community.
“However, there are regulations covering such communities that make it possible for them to recover their investment, if such is made known to the regulators, NERC in this case,” Mr Adegbenle said.