Thursday, July 30, 2009
Commission Dares ECG And NED
Cephas Gakpo — ECG Managing Director
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) has challenged the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Northern Electricity Department (NED) of the Volta River Authority over methods being adopted by the energy companies to recover debts from customers.
The issue has put the PURC and the energy providers on a collision course over the payment of accumulated bills by consumers of electricity in the country as the ECG, through its Public Affairs boss, says it is preparing an appropriate response to a statement issued by the PURC over the issue.
The imminent showdown might be the only solution following a press release by the PURC informing the general public and all consumers of electricity that the two companies cannot recover the cost of service should they fail to bill them for a period of 12 months.
The PURC is an independent body set up to regulate and oversee the provision of the highest quality of electricity and water services to consumers.
In the release issued in Accra yesterday, the PURC indicated that it had noted with concern the practice where the ECG and the NED delayed in demanding payment for services rendered to customers of electricity.
However, Ms Gloria Duah-Sakyi, Head of the Public Affairs Department of the ECG, told the Daily Graphic that “we have received a copy of the release of the PURC. We are studying the contents and will come out in due course with our response”.
The press release of the PURC, signed by its Executive Secretary, explained that ECG/NED waited for several months before presenting consumers with a huge bill, normally termed “the Final Bill”, which arises when a consumer’s meter is changed from credit to the Pre-Payment Metering System.
The PURC, therefore, informed the general public and all consumers of electricity that the two companies could not recover the cost of service should they fail to bill them for a period of 12 months.
It explained further that under the Electricity Supply and Distribution (Technical and Operational) Rules (L.I. 1816), “where a supplier (ECG/NED) fails to bill a customer for a period of 12 months, the supplier cannot recover the cost of the service”.
The cost of the service could only be recovered only when it is established that the delay in the billing occurred without negligence on the part of the supplier or due to the customer’s actions.
“The PURC is appealing to customers of the ECG/NED to take note of these regulations, insist on their rights and report violations to the commission,” the release said.
Clause 9 of L.I. 1816 states thus: Where a supplier’s right to claim the cost of service to the consumer is not vitiated by failure on the part of the supplier to bill the consumer for a period of 12 months, the supplier shall recover the accrued cost of service by (a) giving the customer the option to pay the shortfall by an instalment payment plan and (b) not charging interest on the amount.
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