Power companies, under the aegis of Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, ANED, Wednesday, rejected the reprimand by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC that it should not interfere with policy directives made by it and the Minister of Work, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
ANED, which opposed the decision of the regulatory body in a statement issued by its Chief Executive Officer, Azu Obiaya, in Abuja, said its activities were guaranteed by Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the right of association.
ANED noted that remarks by NERC discouraging its activities, was unacceptable because it had legal backing to protect the interests of the Distribution Companies. DISCOs, just like other associations in the power sector.
It would be recalled that NERC, during a meeting with the Distribution Companies, DISCOs on August 27, 2018, had said ANED activities were discouraged and that the association should not interfere with policy directives or regulatory pronouncements made by the Minister of Power or the Commission.
NERC in a communiqué issued after a meeting in Abuja, also barred ANED from making any unwarranted remark against the minister and its commissioners.
Obiaya said: “The DISCOs, with their formation of, and membership of ANED, are exercising this right, no different from similar entities along the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry, NESI, value chain, such as the Association of Power Generating Companies, APGC, Nigerian Gas Association, NGA, National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, etc.”
ANED said it represents the DISCOs with a principal mandate of advocacy, to protect the interests of its member companies directly and, indirectly, the incomes of a 22,000-employee workforce.
It stated: “The investors who have sunk more than $1.4 billion in the acquisition and operations of the DISCOs to date, and our customers who seek to enjoy the benefits of the best practices that result from the interaction of our members under the ANED umbrella.
It said “Its expression or promotion of a viewpoint that is contrary to that of an established regulation or policy should not be construed as ‘interference’, particularly, in the context of the workings of an industry with multiple stakeholder interests.
“There was need to address the widening tariff gap that hinders DISCOs from performing their obligations due to freezing of the residential tariffs (R2) in 2015, for 18 months, removal of Collection Losses in 2015; non-implementation of five tariff reviews.
“N435.7 billion of under-recovered revenue, among others are the regulatory responsibilities NERC should focus on.
“It’s interested in the urgent reset of the sector, with the implementation of the Power Sector Reform Program, PSRP, to stop the sector from bleeding, drive the investment that is critical for injecting efficiency and provide electricity customers respite from the current difficulties of electricity supply.”