The cost of a 50 percent waiver for electricity consumers for three months due to the impact of COVID-19 will cost the Electricity Company of Ghana some GH¢732million, the Minister of Energy, John Peter Amewu, has revealed.
Apart from the ECG, the Volta River Authority (VRA) and Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCO) will also see costs of GH¢141million and GH¢166.4million respectively – bringing in a total of GH¢1.1billion on these generators and distributors.
In giving a breakdown, Mr. Amewu explained that Lifeline customers – who are generally regarded as underprivileged with low electricity consumption (consume less than GH¢19.26 monthly) – will enjoy free power for April, May and June; while Non-Lifeline customers (consume above GH¢20 monthly) will enjoy a 50 percent rebate using their March 2020 consumption as the benchmark.
This relief, Mr. Amewu said, is expected to benefit about 87 percent of the population who are hooked onto the national grid.
Taking his turn at the regular COVID-19 press briefing at the Ministry of Information, the Energy Minister said ECG has one million Lifeline meters distributed within its operational zones, which translates to 27 percent of its customer population; and government will be absorbing about GH¢8.5million monthly during the period.
The remaining 73 percent of ECG’s customer population who are on the Non-Lifeline category and will have 50 percent of their bills consumed by government will see the state also absorb GH¢235.4million monthly.
Data from the Ministry of Energy shows that NEDCO has 569,000 Lifeline customers and 369,000 Non-Life customers; the Lifeline customer will cost the state GH¢10.9million monthly which will amount to GH¢32.9 million for the three months, while the Non-Lifeline customers will cost the state GH¢36million monthly, amounting to GH¢108million for the three months.
For the VRA, the data also show that 12 mining firms will enjoy GH¢42.4million monthly which will translate to GH¢127.2 million for three months; Valco will be enjoying GH¢4.8million monthly which will translate into GH¢14.4million for the three months – while other manufacturing customers, including Diamond and Savanna Cement, Aluworks and Enclave Power will enjoy GH¢7.9million, which translates into GH¢23.7million for the next three months.
Mr. Amewu told the briefing that, “The relief is covering 4.8 million meters across Ghana for the three-month period commencing April, May and June”.
Acting Managing Director of ECG, Kwame Agyeman-Budu, in an interview with the B&FT said: “All our vendors have been briefed and all our meters have been configured to respond to the directive. Smart meter users will have by this time realised that their meters have responded to the directive and they have received extra credit.
“For non-smart meters, when you are going to buy power from our offices or vendors they will tell you your consumption for the last month, which is March, and on that premise credit your card with the required amount.”
Mr. Agyeman-Budu also explained that prepaid users who do not have smart meters and are also Lifeline customers will have their cards credited for free. “If you are a Lifeline prepaid users, you don’t have to worry; if you continue to stay within your consumption level, you will get free power for the next three months. If you are not on the smart meter, just visit any vendor – especially where you usually buy from or the last place you bought power and they will credit your card for free.”