The umbrella body of the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos), Association of Electricity Distribution Companies (ANED) has said its members lose over N30 billion of their monthly revenue to energy theft, meter bypass, vandalism, and unpaid electricity bills by consumers.
A report from Nigerian Tribune, revealed that the DisCos made the disclosure in a statement issued by ANED’s Executive Director of Research and Advocacy, Mr Sunday Oduntan, on Thursday.
According to him, over 40 per cent of electricity consumers do not pay their electricity bills, while indulging in illegal connection of electricity.
He said these challenges form the major part of the DisCos’ Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses, while also calling 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 practise is costing the power sector billions of Naira monthly. The power sector is currently grappling with a liquidity shortfall of over N1.5tn occasioned by a combination of adverse conditions among which is the high rate of energy theft.
“Recently, one of our members had to publicly declare how much they are losing monthly from energy theft. They lose N3bn monthly. That is a lot of money and this is from people who illegally bypass their connections, those who take energy from the grid without paying as well as those who engage in acts of vandalism,” he said.
The Discos, during a Senate Public Hearing earlier in the week, had cited instances where out of N27.7bn billed for energy consumed by unmetered customers in 2019, only N5.2bn was recovered.
Oduntan said: “On average, each DisCo loses about N3 billion every month on these challenges and for the 10 DisCos who are our members, the monthly losses are over N30bn. The DisCos are struggling to improve revenue collection but there are over 40 per cent of their customers that hardly pay for the electricity that they consume. Some of them are involved in the bypassing of meters and even outright energy theft.
“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 noted that non-payment for electricity worsened after the COVID-19 lock-down 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.
However, he said DisCos are collaborating with security agencies and the judiciary towards enforcing actions that could deter energy theft.