Coalition of Stakeholders on Electricity Contracts and Arrangements (COSECA) has thrown its weight behind the demand for an upward adjustment in utility tariffs.

The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) is demanding a 148% increase in tariff. A proposal from the power distributor, submitted to the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), wants the adjustment to cover the period 2019 and 2022.

Ghana Water Company Limited is also demanding a 334% increase in tariff. The GWCL in its proposal said over the years, the approved tariffs have not been fully cost-reflective.

The Coalition in a press briefing on Thursday stated that “we are in support of an upward tariff adjustment to ensure our utilities do not grind to a halt, considering the economic challenges that all sectors are currently facing.”

According to COSEGA, “from the PURC’s own publication of electricity tariffs published on 16th December, 2020 and its gazetted tariff of 1998-2019, we are very clear in our minds that if the PURC was to do its work properly, we should not see more than 20% in electricity tariff adjustment and should the electricity tariffs be 20% or less, it will automatically also lead to a reduction of water tariffs as electricity constitutes about 30% of the cost of water.”

The Coalition, therefore, blamed PURC for the demand for an upward adjustment in the utility tariffs.

“The Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) in our honest opinion, has been very inefficient, mismanaged and at best seems not to appreciate their role, or are grossly incompetent at it.

“There is enough blame sharing to go round from government to management of utility companies, however, the PURC is the number one reason why we have the tariffs currently piled up, and resulting in ECG’s demand for 148% and GWCL’s 334% upward adjustment in tariffs.”

COSEGA stated that “PURC for the past few years has refused, failed or neglected to implement the automatic adjustment/quarterly adjustment formula.”

This, according to COSEGA has accounted for the high tariffs over the period, thereby burdening the consumer with these accumulated tariffs in such hard times.

They added that through effective monitoring and evaluation of utility companies, the PURC’s fundamental mandate is to ensure that technical and commercial losses are kept to a minimum. Therefore, “The lack of effective monitoring and evaluation has led to an increase in technical and commercial losses of the utility companies, and this cannot be allowed to continue.”

“The poor customer cannot keep bankrolling the incompetence of the PURC in ensuring improved services, and reduced losses in the operations of the utility companies,” COSEGA said.

COSEGA also noted that the failure of PURC to monitor the utilisation of legacy hydro (i.e. power generation from Akosombo and Kpong) has further imposed punitive generation tariffs on the consumer.

In this regard, they urged PURC to check and monitor the portfolio of VRA’s generation mix between legacy hydro and thermal power generation, as both have implications on tariffs.