Reps criminalise estimated billing by power distribution firms

The House of Representatives yesterday criminalized estimated billing by electricity distribution companies as it passed for third reading a bill mandating distribution companies to issue pre-paid meters to electricity consumers or face a jail term of six months or fine ranging from N500, 000 upon conviction.

In passing the bill, the House outlawed estimated billing, declaring that electricity distribution companies shall issue pre – paid meters to consumers within 30 days upon application. At the plenary presided by Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yussuff, the lawmakers said that customers who buy prepaid meters through credit advancement metering must be metered within 30 days while electricity charges or billing of consumers should strictly be based on pre – paid metering.

“No consumer should be made to pay any bill without a pre – paid meter first being installed at the premises of the consumer, the House further said in the amendment” According to the House, an unmetered customer may be issued with estimated bill for a stipulated period, provided that such estimated bill is issued the approved centralized automated system that reflects the approved estimated billing methodology. ”

If a consumer is not metered within 30 days after an application has been made, the distribution company is prohibited from refusing to connect the consumer or disconnect such a consumer in the event he/she has been connected. “Upon connection, the electricity distribution company serving the consumer must inform the customer in writing on the nature of the meter installed, tariff methodology and all other services available to the customer.

“All cases of illegal disconnection, refusal of the distribution company to connect a customer after application, un – metering within 30 days of a customer applying for a pre – paid meter and estimated billing shall attract both civil and criminal liability and any officer found guilty shall be liable to a fine of N500, 000 or six months imprisonment or both,” the House stated.

Similarly, it said that any person who performs any act or contravenes the law by refusing to carry out his lawful duties will be said to have committed an offence and upon conviction be liable to six months imprisonment or a N1 million fine or both. The National Electricity Regulatory Commission the House, ruled has the power to cancel or suspend the license of any distribution company that flouts the provisions of the law.

Source: New Telegraph

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