Business News of Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Mr. Stephen Adu, Executive Secretary of Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), has said the Commission was still pressuring the power utility companies to improve the quality of services rendered to consumers and meet the required benchmarks to reduce cost.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ consultative meeting with Diplomatic Missions in Ghana, Mr. Adu said the Commission was working to ensure that the utilities made enough money to enable them invest to boost their service delivery capacity.
“Ours is a balancing act. We have to protect the interest of consumers while at the same time ensuring that the utilities make some money to be able to invest,” he said.
The meeting with the Diplomatic Missions was to provide education on the activities of the PURC and discuss the challenges as well as the way forward.
Mr. Adu said, a key challenge facing the PURC was the pricing environment and how to ensure adequate tariffs for the utilities, saying, this was making the implementation of social policy relating to lifeline electricity tariff difficult.
He said while the current services being rendered were inadequate, there was the need for a mechanism to ensure the financial stability of the utility companies, to enable them step up their performance and to avoid the perennial revenue losses they were incurring due to constant interruptions in services.
On poor response of the utilities to faults, Mr. Adu said the companies were constantly being reminded of the need for adequate communication with the public on such problems and when they would be resolved.
He said the regular flow of information from the utilities to the public would help save consumers from problems and anxiety especially when services were abruptly disrupted without any notice.
Dr. Simons Akorli, Director of Regulatory Economics and Research at PURC, said the Automatic Adjustment Formula introduced by the PURC was to ensure predictability in the quarterly review of tariffs and to give the companies room to plan.
He said among the factors considered in the review of the tariff include the consumer price index, the cedi-dollar exchange rate, fuel cost and the generation mix, which was the amount of hydro and thermal used in generation during the period.
Dr. Akorli said, compared to natural gas, light crude oil had a high impact on the level of tariffs; adding that, it was in this vein that the PURC was concerned about the reduced volumes and high prices of gas from the West Africa Gas Company.
Currently about 50 million standard cubic feet of gas is being supplied instead of the daily requirement of 123 million standard cubic feet of gas.
He said the inability of suppliers in Nigeria to send more gas had led to critical challenges in the generation sector and expressed the hope that, the on-stream gas from the Jubilee field would greatly supplement supplies.**