By Sebastine Obasi
ELECTRICITY Distribution companies, DISCOS, in apparent defence of their inability to effectively deliver electricity to the Nigerian populace have given reasons why they reject power from generation companies.
The Director of Planning and Research and Spokesman of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distribution, ANED (The umbrella body of the DISCOS), Mr Sunday Oduntan, stated that the transmission company of Nigeria (TCN) sometimes, due to their constraint in transmitting to a particular area, deliberately channel electricity to areas where the people in one way or the other avoid payment of their bills. According to him, since the DISCOS are already operating at a huge loss with the current tariff regime, it does not make economic sense to collect power, pay for it and distribute to where there will be no return.
He said, “The issue of load rejection needs to be put in context. We buy electricity and we sell. We are expected to pay the cost of whatever we purchase to the generators of which we have not been able to meet up.
“The facts and figures are there for anybody to check. If I am buying a product at N68 and I am only legally allowed to sell that product for N31. 58 as is the case now, it then means that even if I am able to collect 100 percent of the expected, I still cannot pay for the product 100 percent.
“This means, for me to still manage and stay in business, I need to have the product where I can get my money. That is not to say that we are not going to distribute electricity to everybody. What I am saying is that if you are bringing goods to me being the distributor that will pay for them, and I have warehouses in different areas that you can supply me, I should have the right to say this is where I need it now.’’
The ANED Spokesperson also explained that electricity supply is no longer a social service, but business since it involves buying from one person and selling to another.
“It is about business here. It is about it because you can hear people say we the DISCOS are owing the people upstream, which is true. Why can’t they say for social services sake we will write-off your debt? Is it possible? So it is about business.
“However, our plan and wish is to give electricity to every of our customer, but in doing so too, we have to think business and be realistic or else we wouldn’t be able to pay for the load transmitted to us. If you are telling me to take my electricity to where they steal it every day, you are rather saying the business should die. I think people are just being mischievous about the so called load rejection without taking TCN’s constraints on consideration.’’
As regards the eligible customer policy, Oduntan said the DISCOS have no fear, but want further clarification on how the authorities intend to go about it without harming the business interest of the DISCOS.