Some stakeholders in the power sector on Friday decried plans by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to further increase electricity tariff by January. They said in Lagos that any increase in tariff without commensurate improvement in power supply would not be appropriate. Mr Hafeez Ajibade, General Secretary of Nigerian Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (NIEEE), said that the government should improve electricity supply before increasing the tariff.
According to Ajibade, government should complete the power sector reforms as scheduled before increasing the tariff. “Consumers cannot bear the pain of continuous increase in tariff when supply and infrastructure are not adequate and efficient,’’ he said. Mr Folorunsho Oginni, Chairman of Lagos Chapter of PENGASSAN, said that incessant increases in tariffwithout addressing challenges of supply would not solve the power crisis.Oginni said that emphasis should be on ways to revamp the moribund power distribution system. “The power distribution system is in bad shape. Even if PHCN provides 24-hour power supply, there will still be problems because the infrastructure needed to be replaced,” he said. The union boss advised the NERC to increase the tariff gradually whenever supply was stable.
Mr John Adebayo, Services Project Manager in HUAWEI, a power firm, said that increasing electricity tariff would compound the problems facing the industrial sector. “We all know that we need to pay more for electricity if it gets better, but not at this time. What the government should be particular about now is the full implementation of the reform of the power sector that was launched on Aug. 26, 2010,” he said.
He wondered what would happen to consumers who regularly got “crazy bills” for services not rendered. Adebayo said the inability of PHCN to provide constant electricity supply had forced many companies to relocate to neighbouring countries where power supply was stable. He said that the tariff review could only be justified if PHCN could guarantee consumers 24- hour power supply in a day. Adebayo, however, gave kudos to the Federal Government for providing timetable for the implementation of the privatization.
Mr Abiodun Ogunleye, Managing Director of PowerCap Ltd, a power consulting firm, said that the tariff increase was well intentioned, but that NERC must evolve all mechanisms to make power supply more stable. He said that government was losing a lot of revenue due to problems of generation, transmission and distribution. He said that there was the need to increase tariff to attract investors. “Besides, the agencies in charge of electricity supply and privitisation should get it right this time to avoid recycling of ideas and human resources,’’ he said. PHCN just increased the tariff to N21 per unit of energy consumed for residential buildings and N66 for commercial buildings in July.