The Electricity Distribution Companies, DisCos, say they are losing over N30 billion in monthly revenue due to cases of energy theft, meter bypass, vandalism, and unpaid electricity bills by consumers.
The DisCos disclosed this in a statement by Sunday Oduntan, the executive secretary, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, ANED, in Abuja on Thursday, June 25, 2020.
According to Oduntan, over 40 percent of electricity consumers do not pay their electricity bills while they indulge in illegal connection of electricity.
He said DisCo operators, who were present at the recent public hearing in Abuja by the Senate Committee on Power, attributed the challenges to form the major part of the DisCos’ Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses.
“They called for effective legislation against energy theft to safeguard revenues and improve performance in the power sector.
“There is a need for effective legislation by the National Assembly to checkmate energy theft in the country as the practice is costing the power sector billions of naira monthly.
“The power sector is currently grappling with a liquidity shortfall of over N1.5 trillion occasioned by a combination of adverse conditions among which is the high rate of energy theft,” he said.
Oduntan said that recently, one of the DisCos had to publicly declare how much it was losing monthly from energy theft.
He said that a DisCo said it lost N3 billion monthly, adding that this huge sum of money was lost due to people who illegally bypass connections.
Oduntan said that in the presentation by the Discos during the public hearing, they showed an instance where out of N27.7 billion that was billed for energy consumed in 2019 by unmetered customers, only N5.2 billion was recovered.
According to him, each DisCo loses about N3 billion every month due to the challenges, adding that the total loss by the 10 distribution companies is over N30 billion.
“The sector cannot continue like this. There is no sector in the world where criminal acts affecting critical sectors are not given special treatment.
“Until people know that there are penalties for the specific crime of energy theft, this is not going to stop,” he said.
He also said the companies were working hard to ensure the availability of meters so that there would be greater transparency which would build customers’ confidence.
“However, this has to be complemented by specific legislation.
“Everywhere you go today, the incidence of meter bypass is rife.
“If people are metered and they still steal energy, it shows you that the problem is not entirely available of meters.
“There is a mindset that stealing electricity is okay and that needs to be corrected through the enactment of appropriate legislation,” Oduntan said.
He noted that non-payment for electricity got worse after the COVID-19 lockdown which began from April 2020 with the DisCos losing an average of N500 million a month in revenue because customers were insisting on getting free electricity.
He, however, said the DisCos were collaborating with security agencies and the judiciary toward enforcing actions that could deter energy theft.
Oduntan urged Nigerians to be more patriotic by stopping all forms of energy theft and helping the security agencies to nab those who engage in such illicit acts.