MONROVIA-The Board of Commissioners (BoC) of the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission (LERC) is currently reviewing the Jungle Energy Power’s (JEP) electricity tariff application following a public hearing recently held in Gompa City in Nimba County. The Commission, in April 2022, requested JEP to apply in keeping with 2015 Electricity Law of Liberia (ELL) and the Electricity Tariff Regulations.
The public hearing was chaired by the Chairman of the BoC Dr. Lawrence D. Sekajipo and brought together the Ministry of Mines and Energy, local government authorities, stakeholders, Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), JEP, businesses, civil society organizations, interest groups and the public.
Chairman Sekajipo said the public hearing was to ensure that all affected parties have “a fair and meaningful opportunity for participation” in the decision-making process of the Commission”.
He told participants at the hearing that as required by the Law and related Regulations, the Commission’s decision in LEC’s application will be rendered in writing within the coming days after the hearing and will address all substantive comments raised or submitted to the Commission.
The Deputy Minister of Energy George Gontor lauded LERC for organizing the hearing and said parties should consider the affordability of electricity which is in line with the Government of Liberia pro poor agenda.
In its tariff submission, the CEO and General Manager Tomah Floyd and Alieu Keita informed that Commission that JEP was proposing several end-user tariffs and the proposed tariffs for electricity consumers in Nimba County will cover the period from February 2023 to December 2025 and will remain at the current costs of US$0.25 per kWh for residential and commercial customers and US$.215 per kWh for medium voltage users.
Mr. Kieta explained that JEP was proposing to the Commission to introduce “Fixed Charges of US$ 2.00 for residential and commercial customers and US$35 monthly for medium voltage users and this amount will be used for Jungle’s expansion across the county”.
JEP’s CEO Tomah Floyd informed the Commission that the Main Meter between LEC and CIE at Gbeunta, in the Ivory Coast is not operational; and JEP continues to receive a huge variance between the monthly bills sent from CIE through LEC and the reading from the “check meter which is of serious financial loss”.
“The JEP transformers, instead of receiving primary voltage of 33KV from Ivory Coast (CIE), JEP receives 31KV which reduces further as MV line extends”, he lamented.
Also, Mr. Tomah informed the BoC that the lack of funding or subsidy to help in the expansion of distribution lines into economically challenged communities needing power is a challenge for the entity and called for subsidy from the national and local government.
Following JEP’s submission, Messrs. Tomah and Kieta were quizzed on its application, performance and operations in the county by members of the audience. Key amongst the concerns raised by members of the audience was exorbitant electricity debts reportedly owed to LEC and being collected by JEP on behalf of LEC. Customers complained that they are uncertain on how these debts were accrued and the payment arrangement. “Every time I purchase electricity; an amount is deducted. I know how much I owe and do know how much I have paid to date”, Nyan Dolo pointed out.
In March 2013, a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) was signed between the LEC and CIE for the supply of electric power to communities in Liberia from the Ivory Coast. In 2016, JEP signed a Distribution Licensee Assignment Agreement LEC to operate the Nimba County segment of the Cross-border Electrification Project and actual operations began in 2018.
The current electricity tariffs were agreed between LEC and JEP during the negotiation of the PPA in 2016. The tariff is made up of payment of US$ 0.01465 per kilowatt- hour billed by CIE for electricity supplied, LEC charges and fees of US$ 0.01/kWh on each unit sold and the balance amount is allocated for JEP’s operating expenses.
The new approved electricity tariffs will go into effect in February 2023.
In 2021, JEP received a Large Micro Utility Distribution License from the Commission to distribute electricity from CIE to communities in Nimba County.