PURC, VRA, ECG Sued Over New Utility Tariffs

The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) has sued the Public Utilities and Regulatory Commission and four power companies over the new electricity tariffs.

The CPA wants the Court to set aside the 59.2% increase in electricity tariff announced by the PURC.

In a December 10, 2015 writ filed at the High Court, a copy of which Myjoyonline.com has intercepted, the CPA and its head, Kofi Kapito aver the increase in electricity announced by the PURC is unfair and illegal.

Four other institutions, the Electricity Corporation of Ghana, the Volta River Authority, the Ghana Grid Company as well as the Northern Electricity Development Company which oversees electricity  supplies to the Northern parts of the country have been named as defendants.

On Monday December 7, 2015 the PURC announced a 59.2% and 67.2% hikes in electricity and water respectively ahead of the Christmas season. The hikes are to take effect on December 14, 2015.

The announcement has been roundly condemned by civil society groups, political parties and a cross section of Ghanaians.

The Consumer Protection Agency, an institution which seeks the interest of the consumers has proceeded to court to challenge the increase.

While it respects the rights and the authority of the PURC to announce prices of utility products, the CPA believes, the PURC has an equal right to protect the interest of the Ghanaian consumers.

The Agency does not understand how the PURC will proceed to announce such an increase in the face of the power outages the country is going through.

The plaintiff among others issues avers as follows

"As of the date 1st Defendant announced the 59.2% electricity tariff increase, ‘Dumsor’ is in full force with no clear date for its abatement or end.

"Plaintiffs and all other consumers of electricity in Ghana have had to contend with ‘Dumsor’ under very trying circumstances with dire implications for business, health, social and economic life inter alia.

"Plaintiffs contend that the Dumsor they as well as Ghanaians face today is as result of inability of 2nd Defendant as the major generator of electricity consumed by Plaintiffs to generate enough electricity for supply to 4th Defendant for transmission to 3rd and 5th Defendants for supply.

"Plaintiffs maintain that the power and authority of 1st Defendant to approve electricity tariffs such as the 59.2% announced recently is discretionary pursuant to Article 296 of the 1992 Constitution which imposes a duty on it to be fair and candid.

"Plaintiffs contend that it is unfair for 1st Defendant to approve a 59.2% increment in electricity tariffs at the time GoG, the sole owner of 2nd,3rd,4th and 5th Defendants is indebted to them as a result of inability to pay for electricity supplied to a number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) OF GoG."

The plaintiffs are therefore seeking an order of "perpetual injunction restraining 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Defendants, their officials, privies, servants, hirelings and underlings and/or any person claiming through them jointly and/or severally and howsoever described from charging electricity tariff increases on the basis of the 59.2% tariff increases announced by 1st Defendant with effect from Monday, the 14th day of December, 2015."