The Managing Corporate Communication, Port Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) in this interview with Nigerian NewsDirect Port Harcourt staff speaks on upward review of electricity tariff and challenges facing PHED. Excerpts.
How does the new tariff benefit the public?
Well, it is not an increase but an upward review, because the real cost of tariff has not been attaine. In product pricing, you have to price appropriately sign that you will not go out of the market. But in this case, the government is involved and other stakeholders are involved.
So government is regulating it. Hence, we have not attained the real cost of one unit of electricity. So, it is a review and the review does not start this year. It started some years back, the second one was in 2015. It a gradual process on a yearly basis through which the real cost of tariff would be attained.
What we have this year as approved by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is equally an upward review, but this time, is a module, a complete departure from what we use to have. Now we have what we call Service Base tariff.
What it means is that, the longer hours of availability of electricity received will reflect in your billing system. But we want to achieve also is to ensure that every part of our franchise area is developed in terms of infrastructure, network expansion, maintenance of the network if fault occurs.
So it is like a revigoration effort by the NERC in conjunction with the service provider, and the Discos to make sure that customers get value for their your money.
So it has been categorized into bands. Bands A, will be receiving a minimum in this category is about 20 hours. The B category will be 16 hours; band C, is 12 hours, then band D and E are to receive eight hours, four hours in a day respectively.
The band D and E will not be affected by the new tariff review because we need to network upgrade in terms of hours of availability as against someone on band A.
Band A customers are still on the old bill tariff which is N30. 26k but the good thing is that the majority of our customers fall within this band. It is not about the rich or poor, it is based where you have found yourself in terms of the network operating within your area.
On a flip side, band A might have big man, middle man living there but they could have been on band E. These rich Nigerians can pay electricity for the next 20 years but they are there because of the network they found themselves.
So it is not about the rich or poor, it is about the existing infrastructure where you have found yourself. However, we have been mandated to see to enough infrastructure being put in place out so that those that are on band D and E will equally be migrated to band C or B as the case may be.
Also you will understand that in evacuating electricity, you have the primary source which is 33KVA; those that are leaving along the 33KVA for instance have what we call down dropper as they tend to enjoy the electricity more than those on 11KVA, because if the injection substation is overloaded then we do what we call systematic load shedding arising for limitations from 33kVA.
The customer will get value for their money, longer hours of availability and there will be prompt attention to fault on electricity.
Because you are now receiving 20 hours of light you need to be conscious of your pocket as well, because if you consume more and you can’t pay, it will be a disservice to our service. So what that means is that we would bring in what is called energy efficiency. You manage your energy effectively; switch off all appliances when not in use so that it will be aligned with your pocket.
It is not when you are enjoying 24 hours power supply then the bill will come, automatically you are going to pay for that electricity on that category which is N55.20k per unit or category B which N54.80k then the same of category C is N52.20k.
So imagine when you leave your supply on for 24 hours, and for a month it makes up of 720 hours and when it is calculated you will come back to tell us that you only using 1 fridge and so on but you have left them on. So it only for you to go into what we call energy efficiency, so we need your support because is about you.
What are the challenges facing PHED?
One of our greatest challenges we are facing in the electricity industry and indeed PHED is the issue of nonpayment of electricity bills.
I may also interest you that as at August 2020 the debt profile of our customers at PHED stands at N188.2billon, in the four states we operate in namely; Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and River State.
On metering of houses, how far have you gone with the order given by the National assembly that all houses should be metered?
What we do is buying and selling, and of course, we are working under a regulatory commission which I mentioned earlier. Once upon a time, we were given mandate to give freely and now customers are asking to pay for their meter. As it stands now those who have applied for meter are 27,933 customers.