Court Throws Out VRA, PURC Over Tariff Suit

An Accra High Court has thrown out an application by the Volta River Authority and the Public Utilities and Regulation Commission (PURC) challenging the validity of a suit filed by the Consumer Protection Agency against hikes in utility tariffs.

The latest ruling now paves way for the substantive suit to be heard. The judge subsequently ordered the regulators to file their response to the suit by the CPA.

The CPA sued the PURC and four other power companies over the new electricity tariffs. It 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, the CPA and its head, Kofi Kapito argued that the increment is unfair and illegal.

Other defendants in the case are the Electricity Corporation of Ghana, the Volta River Authority, the Ghana Grid Company as well as the Northern Electricity Development Company.

The plaintiff among other 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.”

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