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Litigations Hamper Geometrics, Interstate Lease Dispute

Sam Amadi, chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has disclosed in Abuja that the long drawn dispute over the 20-year lease granted to Geometric Power Aba Limited to generate, transmit and distribute electricity in the Aba and Ariaria business districts of the Enugu electricity distribution network would have been resolved but for subsisting lawsuits filed by the contending parties.

He revealed that former President Goodluck Jonathan had granted his consent to the NERC to resolve the dispute, using its regulatory powers but that his initial efforts were bungled by the lawsuits. Amadi stated that the Commission had quickly acted on the presidential consent, and first moved to set up a public hearing in line with standard regulatory practices, but had to subsequently pull back following a notice of existing lawsuits by the contending parties.

But in an update of the dispute and what the Commission would likely do next to resolve the dispute, Amadi explained that the issue was discussed in the Commission’s last management meeting, with a resolve to revisit it based on the consent of the new government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Amadi said a quick resolution of the dispute would reinforce NERC’s policy to encourage investment in embedded power generation in the country. He noted that like it had always held, the lease dispute is best resolved through the regulator of the sector as done in other climes, adding that for the sake of NERC’s new push to encourage investment in the embedded power generation, it hopes to quickly end the matter for public good.

“With regards to Aba and Interstates, NERC has always being transparent and very open. After the sale of the assets to Interstate and   Geometric Aba Power protested, we did three things; we set up a committee to go to Aba and verify what they have done, Geometric is our licensee, don’t forget, for generation and Aba power has a distribution licence too. The committee wrote a report and we forwarded to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE). We also did the valuation for the whole of Aba distribution area.

We are the regulator and we should know the asset by valuation of the asset, but before we could take an action on that, they had gone to court and remember NERC was not primarily involved in the privatisation,” Amadi said. He further explained that “as a regulator, our concern was more about operations of the network and Geometrics as our licensee, we needed to make sure that their claims were true.

The letter that is trending in the papers today was written when Interstate took over the distribution network and it was simply, saying that there is a lease that needs to be operationalised but in operationalising the lease, it means for us that we want power to come to the people and Enugu DISCO and Interstate should operationlise the lease.”

He said on the way forward, “We believe however that the matter is best resolved regulatorily because these are our two licensees and under the law, the regulator has the right to insist on full service.

“It is best resolved if we look at the licenses and reshape them based on public interest and I have insisted that we must have to initiate a public hearing before we can go into the matter as practiced all over the world. We call the parties to make their cases and we also invite experts to advice. Whatever decision we take then will be backed by law because they are our licensees and we are primarily responsible to determine the jurisdiction of the licences.”

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