Commission says this is within its mandate and lawyer erred by going to court
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) wants a suit challenging the implementation of new electricity tariffs to be referred to it for determination.
In court papers, ERC argued that it is the first point of call to investigate consumer complaints, grievances and disputes relating to usage of power and, therefore, former Law Society of Kenya boss Apollo Mboya jumped the gun by approaching the High Court instead of the commission.
“The spirit of the law dictates that the court should not be invited to transform itself or take over a policy implementing the body’s role whenever it is handling any matter,” ERC said, adding that the case in court should be dismissed.
ERC said the first tariff review was conducted in 2008, which resulted in the structure that remained in force for five years and lapsed in 2013 when the commission undertook another review whose structure was to be in place for another five years.
“Accordingly, by July/August 2018, the five-year period for the tariff structure set in 2013 had lapsed and the tariff structure was ripe for review,” ERC in response to the case filed by Mr Mboya.
According to Mr Mboya, the new electricity tariffs announced on July 30, are discriminatory against the poor and a significant majority of the domestic consumers while favouring the minority.
“It is only manufacturers who consume bulk power who will save when they adjust their production plans to use power at night when the rest of the country is asleep. Power that goes to waste anyway,” he said.
Mr Mboya argued that both Kenya Power and ERC have no constitutional mandate to review electricity tariffs.
The new structure came into effect on August 1 for the pre-paid users and July 1 for those having post-paid meters. But Mr Mboya argued that the move is a ploy by Kenya Power and ERC to circumvent an order of the court, which stopped them from recovering backdated bills amounting to Sh10.1 billion.
The temporary orders were issued by Justice Chacha Mwita following an application by Mr Mboya and the Electricity Consumers Society.
The first 10 units of energy used by domestic consumers will now cost Sh12 each from Sh2.5 previously charged. The regulator removed the Sh150 fixed charge.
For the next 40 units for the domestic user the company will earn Sh15.80 each up from Sh2.5.
The case will be heard on October 9.