Eligible customers: Ambiguity threatens manufacturers’ power plans

The quest to generate power independently by manufacturers may suffer a setback if the government does not spell out who is eligible to consume such power under the eligibility criteria, our correspondent has learnt.

The eligible consumers’ regulation was initiated by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission in 2017.

The policy permits electricity consumers to buy power directly from the generation companies in line with the provisions of Section 27 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005 whereby eligible customers are permitted to buy power from a licensee other than electricity distribution companies.

Although the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, had spelt out four categories of eligible consumers in the Nigerian electricity supply industry, the President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Frank Jacobs, noted that there was a need for further clarity.

Jacobs, who was represented by the Chairman, Economic Policy, MAN, Reginald Odiah, at a breakfast meeting organised for chief executive officers by the Ikeja branch of the association, said that although the policy was the way forward in generating more power for the sector, the process was still not clear.

“Up till now, they have not been able to clarify the process through which one can qualify for eligibility. We are looking forward to that and once that is done, we can see manufacturers, especially heavy users of equipment, going directly to get power,” he stated.

Jacobs said the eligibility clause would open the 2,000 megawatts of power said to be locked up so that real consumers like steel manufacturers could take advantage of it.

However, according to the MAN Director-General, Mr. Segun Aiayi-Kadiri, the utilisation of the 2,000MW had conditions attached to it.

The government, according to him, has asked manufacturers to withdraw the court case against the power distribution firms and NERC before they can access it.

Ajayi-Kadiri described the offer as giving somebody something with one hand and taking it away with the other hand.

He said, “We have a case in court where the Discos are telling us to pay for billions of naira worth of power that we do not owe.

“We don’t owe that amount and so we said we cannot pay. The bills for some firms are in excess of N1bn. They will close down if they have to pay such an amount.”

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