Electricity consumers in Imo State are groaning over the massive increase in their bills for the month of July, the effective date for the new tariff regime announced earlier by the Minister for Energy, Prof. Barth Nnaji.
Both the Minister and the National Electricity Regulation Commission, NERC, had alerted Nigerians that with effect from the end of June, 2012, there would be “slight adjustment” in the tariff, but they promised it would be so insignificant to the ordinary consumers that they would hardly notice.
With the latest bill from Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, (formerly NEPA), the tariff had jumped from N7.30 to N12.89, a leap of over 70 percent!
To the astonishment of most consumers, the company decided to bill customers on the basis of “Estimated consumption” irrespective of whether consumers had meters or not.
This has elicited sharp disagreements between some households and NEPA field men who distribute bills.
On the average, a house with three to four bedrooms received N6,000 bill for a single month even when supply was generally epileptic, and in some places non-existent.
Meanwhile, PHCN has begun distributing free pre-paid meters in Owerri business district in fulfillment of the promise by Prof. Nnaji who had said the new tariffs would be followed with free supply of pre-paid meters to those households that do not have them.
A senior PHCN official who confirmed the arrival of the meters, however, added that “for now, the meters are being supplied to customers who had paid for meters but have not yet been supplied”.
He said that “NEPA will not refund such people even though the meters are supposed to be supplied free of charge”.
The official, who preferred not to be named, said the rest of consumers with analogue meters will be supplied the new pre-paid one later.
He said there are enough of the new meters to go round.
Attempts made to confirm from the Public Relations Manager, were unsuccessful as his line could not be accessed.