NERC to outlaw Disco Roundtable, others

Minister assures of better power generation
APPARENTLY to check the possibility of cartels emerging in the unfolding private sector-led electricity market, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has commenced moves to proscribe the Roundtable of Distribution Companies (Disco Roundtable).
Meanwhile, an assurance has come from the Minister of Power, Chinedu Nebo, that the new owners of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), successor generation companies, have developed and perfected how they are going to boost generation.
NERC said it has already written the body to discontinue its activities.
Under the umbrella of Disco Roundtable led by the former NERC chairman, Dr. Ransome Owan, the preferred bidders for the nation’s distribution companies had attempted to speak government out of August 21, 2013, deadline of payment of 75 per cent balance for the utilities, citing government’s failure to conclude labour payment, among others.
The move did not succeed, as government resisted the effort.
Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, said at a forum with some journalists in Abuja at the weekend that though government would encourage healthy market competition, it would not tolerate unwholesome cartel practices in the emerging Nigerian electricity market.
To this effect, he noted that the newly-found union of investors would be outlawed.
The “Disco Roundtable”, which is chaired by Owan, was ostensibly formed to advance the interests of investors in the PHCN distribution companies; it had before now asked for, among other things, an extension in the payment deadline for the outstanding 75 per cent bid price of the distribution companies, a request the Federal Government actually turned down.
He said: “No, we have told them that there will be nothing like Disco Roundtable after they have taken over; each person would have to come to NERC for whatever issues they may have in the sector, they won’t come to us in group.
“We will not tolerate any cartel, they are to operate individually. At this level, they can come together but after take over, they have to cease from existing,” Amadi said while responding to a question on fears that the Disco Roundtable may eventually metamorphose into an electricity distribution cartel if allowed to continue in the long run.”
While handing over ownership certificates to preferred bidders for the PHCN firms last week, President Goodluck Jonathan had directed the new owners to add an additional 5,000 mega watts of electricity to the national grid within the next years.
In an interview this weekend, Nebo stressed that the new owners had promised to live up to expectation and had already developed work plans to achieve the feat.
He said: “The commitment of the investors is encouraging, and we are doing everything possible to get the transmission network ready. One of the major thrusts that the ministry would be embarking on is to make sure that we have transmission infrastructure that is robust enough to wheel out all the electricity that is generated.”
He confirmed that the role of the ministry would change, stressing that the government would soon establish the much talked about National Council for Power to better coordinate stakeholders’ involvement in the sector.
According to him, “The Ministry will detach itself from running generating and distribution companies unless in emergencies. We will empower them to ensure a level playing ground to make sure that everybody is doing what he is supposed to do within the entire power sector so that Mr. President’s Transformation Agenda is fully realised in the power sector”.