The Board of Commissioners (BoC) of the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission (LERC) has backed the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) in its move to disconnect government agencies and public corporations owing the LEC.
The LERC is the national regulator of the energy sector which is clothed with the responsibilities to issue licenses, approve tariffs, ensure liberalization of the sector, improve service delivery, protect consumers and create a vibrant electricity sector.
The LERC's support comes in the wake of complaints filed to it by the management of LEC; expressing dissatisfaction that several autonomous agencies and commissions of government have accrued an energy debt of US$1,321,196 from the supply of electricity services. Their refusal to pay, the LEC said, has placed them in "delinquent status" with the Corporation.
Institutions indebted to the Corporation include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Independent National Human Rights Commission (INHRC), Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), Monrovia City Corporation (MCC), National Housing Authority (NHA), National Transit Authority (NTA), National Aids Control Program (NACP), National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), National Drug Service (NDS), National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) and the University of Liberia (UL).
In a statement issued on Tuesday in Monrovia, the LERC through its Board of Commissioners headed by Dr. Lawrence D. Sekajipo backed the LEC to cut off these institutions if they cannot live up to the commitment to pay their light bill.
"The management of LEC recently informed LERC's BoC that several autonomous Agencies and Commissions of government have failed to settle their energy debts and were now in a "delinquent status" with the Corporation... The Commission calls on the management of the LEC to immediately embark on a massive disconnection exercise of these 'delinquent and persistent debtors," the LERC said through its Boc headed by Chairman, Dr. Sekajipo.
This action, the LERC notes, is in accordance with Regulation 28 of the Customer Service and Quality of Supply Regulations which provides that "A service provider may disconnect service to a customer when the customer: fails to pay a bill for the service for more than 14 days from the date of the delivery of the demand for payment by the service provider".
Dr. Sekajipo said "the Commission supports LEC's decision that persistently defaulting customers and illegal electricity consumers be immediately disconnected by the Corporation".
There remains a compelling need for consumers of electricity to continue to pay their bills to ensure that the public electricity utility, the LEC generates enough revenue to provide a reliable and stable service to the people of Liberia, he noted.
The LERC in the statement lauded President George M. Weah for the "overwhelming support to LEC on proposed measures for collecting arrears including termination of service to delinquent customers and the immediate disconnection of customers that are illegally connected".
The LEC, as the biggest electricity provider in Liberia. Its revitalization to restore electricity was heavily facilitated by donors including the United States, the EU, Germany, Norway with US$257 million spent to rehabilitate the Mount Coffee Hydro Power Plant in Harrisburg.
Despite its huge prospect to generate revenue to spur development, the LEC continues to suffer huge losses due to power theft by large segment of the population in Monrovia and its surroundings.
Some officials of government, business tycoons and private corporations are reportedly in involved with the unwholesome act by means of illegal connection. Despite the legislation of an anti-power theft law, the corporation continues to be plagued by the menace with no workable strategy to curb it.
In May, President George Weah, following woeful power outages, hastily convened a day-long meeting with major stakeholders of the energy sector including the management of the LEC, bilateral and multilateral partners to find amicable solution in addressing the situation.
At the end of the meeting, the government and the partners pledged to redouble their efforts in supporting the LEC.