DisCos struggle to satisfy Band A customers over gas shortage

Due to a gas shortage that has hindered generation since January, many electricity distribution companies have been finding it difficult to provide Band A customers with 20 hours of electricity.

Sunday PUNCH’s findings revealed that while DisCos strive to meet the required supply hours for Band A customers, their counterparts on Bands B, C, D, and E have been left without power.

Our correspondent learned that the distribution companies were concentrating more on the Band A customers to keep their Band A feeders from being downgraded.

Band A customers enjoy a minimum of 20 hours of electricity daily.

On April 3, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission announced that subsidies would no longer be paid for the electricity consumed by Band A customers.

The electricity tariff for Band A customers was revised upward from N68 per kilowatt-hour to N255/KWh.

1 kWh is the amount of energy that could be used if a 1,000-watt appliance is kept running for an hour. For example, a 100-watt light bulb operating for 10 hours would use 1 kWh.

After the power subsidy was removed, the NERC directed the 11 DisCos to release their lists of Band A customers, who must get at least a 20-hour supply daily.

The regulator and the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, emphasised that there would be sanctions should the distribution companies fail to supply Band A customers with 20 hours of electricity.

The DisCos were also mandated to inform customers whenever they failed to meet the required minimum service level.

NERC said that where a DisCo failed to deliver on the committed level of service on a Band A feeder for two consecutive days, the DisCo should, by 10 am the next day, publish on its website an explanation of the reasons for the failure and update the affected customers on the timeline for restoration of service to the committed level.

It stated that if a customer’s service level improves to at least 20 hours, they should be upgraded from lower service bands to Band A, adding that if the DisCo fails to meet the committed service level to a Band A feeder for seven consecutive days, the feeder will be downgraded to the recorded level of supply by the applicable framework.

In their efforts to meet up with the service level, our correspondent gathered that some of the DisCos were gradually resorting to diverting the little allocation they get to the Band A customers.

This is even though the gas constraints that have hindered power generation since the beginning of the year have yet to be addressed.

Many communities said they could not boast 30 hours of power supply since January, a development the government blamed on the refusal of gas companies to supply gas to power-generating companies due to heavy debt.

“One of the primary factors is the low supply of gas to generating companies, which has led to a gradual decrease in available generation on the grid. This has significantly reduced the power available on the transmission grid for onward supply to IBEDC and, in turn, greatly hindered our ability to provide power to customers within our franchise, namely Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Kwara, and partly in Kogi, Niger and Ekiti States,” the IBEDC spokesperson, Busolami Tunwase, said recently.

Our correspondent observed that electricity consumers had continued to complain of prolonged power outages in their areas, even during the Easter and Eid-el-Fitri festivities.

An X user identified as Oluwagbenga complained to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company about power outages in his area, saying, “At Lugbe FHA (Kapwa), we didn’t have electricity for over two days until the early hours of yesterday (Wednesday). Now we have been in darkness for a little more than 22 hours. We are back to the dark days when we were denied power supply but are expected to pay tariffs for Band B.”

A customer in Lokoja, Kogi State, @Alafinnuhu said: “Why is AEDC so insensitive towards her customer’s pains and complaints? You can’t imagine that we can’t enjoy supply during the day or night as they give us supply for just two hours around Lokongoma here in Lokoja, where most consumers use prepaid.”

A consumer in Niger State, identified as Mr Mojosas, complained to the AEDC that some parts of Minna, including Broadcasting Road, had been without power supply for over 24 hours as of Thursday.

In Ogun State, residents of Sagamu, Ibafo, Mowe, Abeokuta, Ipokia, Ota, and many others said they had been in darkness since January and had no improvement yet.

In compliance with the order of the NERC, the power distribution companies daily declared their inability to meet the service level, blaming the TCN and technical glitches.

The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company on Thursday announced that 10 feeders did not meet the required 20-hour service on April 7 and 8.

“We have taken cognisance of the gaps that informed our inability to meet the minimum daily supply to the above feeders and taken necessary steps to ensure that there won’t be a repeat,” the EEDC said.

The Kaduna DisCo also disclosed that it could only supply 13 hours of electricity to customers under the 33Kv Airport Road Feeder on Wednesday.

Also, the Port Harcourt DisCo announced service shortfalls in three Band A feeders, Amika, Oyigbo, and Bristol, saying it was working with the TCN to restore regular supply.

The Ibadan, Yola, and Benin distribution companies had all declared service shortfalls, apologising to their affected Band A customers.

As the DisCos apologised to Band A customers, others in Band B to E said they were being ignored.

@oluseyitones said: “It seems @beninelectric has decided that only Band A areas should get to use power now. We’ve not had power for days. Of course, we are not even in Band Z.”

Meanwhile, the TCN disagreed with the IBEDC, saying it should not be blamed for its inability to supply 20-hour electricity to Band A customers.

TCN spokesperson, Mrs Ndidi Mbah, told our correspondent that she was aware that some DisCos were blaming the TCN, saying that investigations were ongoing to confirm their claims.

In a statement, Mbah said, “IBEDC’s publication on April 9, 2024, across its social media platforms, attributing its inability to deliver estimated hours of supply to its customers is incorrect.

“The feeders mentioned in the publication are not within the TCN network. This means that most of the listed feeders in the publication are 11 kV and operated by IBEDC, completely outside TCN’s operational control and in IBEDC’s network.”