Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Electricity Sector Reforms
Prior to the reforms in the power sector industry was a monopoly run by a single government owned utility company handling generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. Over the years, this single utility company Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) was unbundled into three successor companies namely: Uganda Electricity Generation Company (UEGCL), Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd and Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. After creating the above three (3) companies, the Electricity y Authority (ERA) was enacted to oversee the UEB successor Companies in order to address the power problems that were faced by the sector.
All aspects related to generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity which includes one or more of the following.
- Generating stations
- Transmission or main transmission lines
- Tie-lines· Load dispatch activities·
- Mains or distributing mains
- Electric supply lines
- Overhead lines
- Service lines
The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development appoints the Authority .The Authority consists of 5 Authority Members (Board Members) with the Authority Chairman being the head of the Authority. The Secretariat is accountable to the Authority Chairman and his members, who are also accountable to the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development who issues directives and is the policy maker.
ERA has its offices at Kampala only, where all the activities are carried out. ERA has no regional offices.
The offices are located at:
ERA House, Plot 15 Shimoni Road, Nakasero Hill.
P.O. Box 10332, Kampala.
Tel.+256 312 260166. 0757 341646,
Consumer Hotline: 0200 506000
Fax: +256 641624
Facebook: Electricity y Authority
WhatsApp/SMS: 0776 188188
The roles of ERA are to ensure that:
- The electricity market is efficient;
- Prices charged are fair;
- Access to electricity is maximized both in urban and rural areas;
- Rights of the customers are protected;
- Electricity is adequate, reliable and safe;
- Ensure that the there is a leveled playing field for the customers, operators, investors and intending investors.
- Advises Government on which areas require investors
- Ensures that the quality of standards and other regulations are not violated by the operators etc.
ERA licenses competent operators and owners of Electricity Companies in Uganda’s electricity supply industry.
- Review and set electricity tariffs, prices, charges and other terms of supply of electricity after analysis and crucial stakeholder consultation.
- Supervise all power companies and ensure they comply with terms and conditions of licenses issued to them.
- Advise the Energy Minister regarding need for electricity projects.
- Approve equitable prices leading to fair return on investments and sustainability of electricity supply and ensure reasonable prices for end-users.
The Electricity Authority (ERA) is a statutory body established in the year 2000 in accordance with the Electricity Act 1999 [Chapter] 145 [Laws of Uganda]. To regulate the generation, transmission, distribution, sale, export and import of electrical energy in Uganda.
ERA can be compared to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) which regulates telecommunications in Uganda or Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), National Environment Management Authority etc.
To be an effective regulator that promotes safe, efficient, reliable and sustainable electricity supply.
To regulate the electricity industry in accordance with applicable laws, policies, standards and international best proactive
- Transparency & accountability
- Equal and fair opportunity
- Stakeholder sensitivity
Complaints Handling Procedures
The Regulator has put to stop mass disconnection where a group of customers are disconnected just because of a few defaulters, which leads to wrongful disconnections. Note that those who owe past overdue bills would be subject to disconnections. However, there are procedures for doing that. The Utility Company issues a bill with a notice of 14 days to customers to clear their bills, then issue a disconnection notice for 5 days, to all a customer to clear then 2 days before disconnection.
Each customer is treated as an individual customer unless if they are bulk metered customers sharing one meter, then they will be disconnected as a mass disconnection due to the nature of their connection. Otherwise no customer individual customer is likely to be disconnected due to a neighbour’s failure to clear his or her bill, if one has their individual meter and account.
The Regulator has established Rules and Regulations for private investors, and has to date licensed up to more than 14 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) who are distributing, generating and selling power to the areas where the grid does not reach and some who are near the grid also sell the excess power to the main grid which has improved on the quality and reliability of electricity supply in Uganda.
The Authority has addressed estimated billing by setting the regulations and Quality of Service standards with the minimum number of days or period within which one can continue to receive estimated billings but not exceeding three (3) months. The Authority’s Regulation on Performance Standards for Distribution Companies, is stipulated in Grid Code 2003. Section 12 Clause 12.1.1 of the Grid Code 2003 recommends three months or 90 days after which the distribution company must find every means possible to read the customer’s meter for actual consumed energy if the premises are metered.
If over charged as a result of an error by a licensee, the licensee shall rectify the anomaly at the next billing as stated under Section 12 Clause 12.5 of the Grid Code 2003.
The electricity distribution zones under the Umeme Ltd/ National Grid are divided into twenty five (25) Umeme districts: across the most of the geographical towns of Uganda except a few areas where the grid does not rich like West Nile and other parts in the North.
Umeme Ltd is the main distribution company in-charge of the main grid with 95% of Uganda’s electricity network.
There are also other players operating in different parts of the country namely:
- Kyegegwa Rural Electricity Cooperative Society Ltd.
- Bundibugyo Energy and Cooperative Society in areas of Bundibugyo and parts of Fort Portal.
- Kilembe Investments Ltd in Kasese area
- Pader-Abim Community Multipurpose Electric Co-operative Society Limited in the North in Pader and Abim areas
- UEDCL off grids in the north and west, North East.
- WENRECo in the West Nile Region.
- Kinyara for own use and grid
- Kakikira for own use and the grid.
- KCCL for own use and the grid and many others
You have a right to escalate your complaint to the Electricity Disputes Tribunal (EDT) which is the electricity court, under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development located at 4th Floor, Amber House, Pilkington Road, Kampala.
If you are not satisfied with the resolution of the EDT you have a right to proceed to courts of Law as deemed necessary.
You can contact the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA).
Remember to send the following details to enable the responsible officer attend to you:
Area/address of residence/ Distribution area or company that supply your Nature of complaint for redress.
You will need to make a written, telephone, walk-in, SMS, WhatsApp, Webmail or email complaint at the nearest distribution office or call the Umeme Customer Call Centre [on 0800 185 185] or the electricity distribution company serving you. They are expected to resolve your problem according to the Quality of Service Standards 2015, depending on the nature of complaint.
The Authority has established a procedure to ensure that consumer complaints are expeditiously handled by the Distribution Companies. The requirement is that each Distribution Company must set up a Customer Care office to receive, register and attend to customer complaints to resolution and submit a report to the Authority on a quarterly basis as a requirement under the Quality of Service Standards 2015.
Customer Care offices of the Distribution Companies are responsible for the complaints of consumers as a first call point. The new initiative of the Authority to encourage service providers/licensees to create a customer service attitude in the sector has improved as compared to the previous years.
In addition, the Authority has established a Consumer Public Affairs Unit for hearing and resolving residual consumer complaints upon appeal on every Distribution Licensee. A complainant must first report any grievance to the Customer Care offices of the Distribution Company before seeking redress from the Authority or the Electricity Disputes Tribunal.
Electricity Consumer must:
- Pay bills for electricity consumed
- Pay a security deposit requested by the electricity distribution company and other requirements for connection stipulated by ERA
- Vigilant protection of electrical installations
- Cordiality towards electricity workers
- Customer (User) compliance to the requirements of the Grid code 2003
The Electricity Consumers have a:
- Right to have electricity upon application
- Right to have a meter to measure his/her supply
- Right to a refund when over billed
- Right to properly installed working meter
- Right to log complaints when dissatisfied
- Right to information on scheduled power interruptions.
- Right to transparent billing
- Right to due process prior to disconnection of electric service
- Right to be notified prior to disconnection
- Right to reconnection of electricity supply after disconnection upon payment.
- Right to file complaints before ERA/Electricity Disputes Tribunal or other courts of law.
ERA has the following for consumers:
- The Authority has a fully established unit for consumer Affairs. Handling consumer concerns, complaints, sensitization/consumer education materials etc.
- The following consumer protection measures are in place which include: Customer Complaints Handling Procedures;
- Approved Quality of Service Standards for Distribution companies
- ERA signed a Memorandum of Understating with the Uganda National Bureau of Standards(UNBS) to ensure that the quality of electrical materials/appliances/cables imported in the country meet the required standards, customers who would like their meters to be tested by independent bodies can take their meters to UNBS for testing.
- The Authority has embarked on numerous public enlightenment campaigns under Consumer sensitization/awareness programs enlightening consumers on their rights and obligations.
- The Authority has established a number of regulations to aid the day today management of the electricity supply (The Electricity Grid Code 2003, Safety Code 2003, Quality of Service Code 2003 and Quality of Service Standards 2015) which guides the Distribution, Generation and Transmission of electricity supply in the sector).
25 - Is Umeme Authorized to Charge a Customer Forex Exchange Adjustment, Inflation Adjustment and Fuel Adjustment?
The adjustment of the retail tariff for movement in inflation, exchange rate and fuel prices has always been imbedded in the tariff methodology. The difference is that previously the impact of the adjustments for the macroeconomic factors above was not separately shown on the electricity bill. In order to ensure/encourage transparency, the adjustment factors are shown separately on the bill.
In 2005 the Government of Uganda made a decision to subsidize electricity consumers. By 2011, the subsidy levels had increased to unsustainable levels that adversely affected the creditworthiness of the operators in the Electricity Supply Industry and eroded private sector investment and confidence in the electricity sector.
In 2012, Government made a decision to reduce direct subsidization of the electricity consumers and instead invested in large hydro power generation projects and transmission infrastructure. Between 2005 and 2012, the retail tariff was being adjusted for movement in inflation, exchange rate and fuel prices but the increase/decrease in the costs as a result of changes in these macroeconomic parameters being absorbed by Government of Uganda through provision of subsidies as the retail tariff remained relatively unchanged.
The Electricity Regulatory Authority sets the Tariffs for consumers. These tariffs are set in different categories [domestic, commercial, light industrial, street lighting and large industrial).
These tariffs are likely to charge from time to time, but you can inquire from your supplier to be updated on the current tariffs depending on the category you fall under.
Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO) is a methodology used for determining tariffs across the electricity value chain. MYTO sets a 15 year tariff path with bi-annual minor reviews (taking cognizance macroeconomic indicators such as inflation rates, cost of fuel and exchange rate) and a 5 yearly major reviews.
Since the change in the Government electricity subsidization policy, and in order to ensure financial sustainability of the Electricity Supply Industry, the Electricity Regulatory Authority through consultation with stakeholders established a quarterly tariff review methodology. The methodology is updated every year and is available on our website; www.era.or.ug. The quarterly adjustment of the retail tariff has been in force since January 2014.
Reliability & Billing
These are bills that are given to a customer that does not reflect the correct consumption of the customer’s consumption. Such bills usually come in the form of estimated bills where the electricity distribution company gives the customer an estimate that far exceeds what that customer could possibly have consumed within the billing period.
ERA as guided by the Electricity Grid Code 2003 only allows the distribution company to estimate the customer’s bill for only 3 months.
All electricity distribution companies are not supposed to estimate the customer’s bill for more than 3 consecutive months. This is to ensure that the customers pay for only what they consume.
The fixed charge (service fee) is part of a customer’s electricity bill that is charged on a monthly basis. The fixed charge is intended to allow for the recovery of the costs associated with the fixed or permanent investments (e.g. poles, cables, transformers etc.) needed to generate, transmit and distribute electricity. The fixed charge is a universal best practice and is not peculiar to a particular country. It is to be borne by electricity customers at all times, once they are connected to supply. It is not tied to consumption.
33 - Can Umeme update the public on the distribution of the led bulbs that were distributed recently?
The tariff for industrial customers is already lower than the domestic tariffs. You can only benefit from the low tariff by controlling the timing for your production to produce most of your products during the off-pick hours which are 12:00a.m.to 6:00a.m when most people are asleep and are consuming less power. Power rates are cheaper during off pick hours.
35 - Is it possible for ERA to publish a sample of the Wiremen Permit in the national paper and also attached a sample at the back of the Installations Permit Regulations booklet?
37 - Does ERA have approved set standards for Umeme like the maximum time without supply for customers, which Umeme should follow?
In the past, the distribution network of Umeme and other licensees has been very old and little investment has been made to ensure that replacement of old infrastructure is done for the network to be reliable. Effort has been made by Umeme with the ERA directing the company to invest in restoration of the old network to improve reliability of the network. ERA has also developed minimum quality of service standards for a standard has been set for outages and restoration times. The licensees are required to report on this outages to ERA and ERA intends to introduce penalties for non-compliance with the set standards.
41 - Why are Umeme meters not labeled with the sticker of the (Uganda National Bureau of Standards, UNBS) standard verifying entity?
There is a regulation regarding the testing and certification of meters under UNBS. In the interim, UNBS has been relying on international test certificates from accredited meter test labs for the meters that licensees are using to bill customers which the licensees submit to Umeme and ERA for approval.
However, a new regulation on meter testing has recently been developed by UNBS and going forward, it shall be a requirement that all meters shall have a UNBS sticker.
ERA has signed a memorandum of understanding with UNBS to label all distribution meters after tested with them with UNBS Stickers.
There are two issues here; calibration and testing. Calibration is the adjustment of meter parameters to ensure functional technical parameters are within specifications.
Umeme does not calibrate meters; these meters are only calibrated at the meter manufacturing factory and are designed to last for a specific period of time (i.e. 7 – 10 years) after which they need to be replaced.
Testing a meter is the inspection of a meter for its accuracy to ensure that it is within the set tolerances. Accuracy must be within ±2%.
Umeme as a licensee is required to have the facilities to test a meter and is the first point of call when one has a query with a meter. Once the customer is not comfortable with the test results, he can then request for a test from UNBS/ERA for comparison of results.
Should the customer prefer an independent entity to test their meter, the customer will have to incur the costs involved at that entity’s set fees. ERA and UNBS have a memorandum of understanding regarding independent meter testing if need occurs but the customer pays at UNBS’ set fee.
Once a customer has requested Umeme to test his meter, Umeme charges a standard fee for meter testing at Shs.5000. This money is refundable to the customer if the meter passes the test.
The current phase of distributed led bulbs was targeting domestic loads in high density areas which contribute to the increase in peak loading hence the distribution in Kampala. The primary role of the led dissemination exercise was to reduce the peak demand with the other effect of energy efficiency and efficient technology use. The distribution of led bulbs will extend upcountry to high density areas to begin with.
46 - What were the criteria for distributing the led bulbs? Why did ERA concentrate in the central region alone? Why not in the north or East or any other part of the country?
The led bulbs were given out as a Demand Side Management measure to reduce on the consumption at night on the high consuming feeders.
The 100 watts bulb (ordinary bulb) consumes one kilowatt of electricity if used for 10 hours as compared to a 8 watts led bulb which consumes the same amount in 30 hours with a brighter light emission.
If a customer wants a pre-paid meter, he or she should notify the electricity distribution company (Umeme Ltd and other distribution Cos), and the company should then ensure that the meter is provided free of charge in exchange with the existing postpaid meter.
Or for a new connection, a connection fee of Ugx. 98,000 will be charged upon completion of survey by the distribution Company (with the exception of the necessary costs associated with installation).