Umeme wants out of court settlement with regulator

Thursday March 31 2016
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Offices of Electricty Regulatory Authority in Kampala.

Kampala. Uganda’s major electricity distribution company Umeme, now wants the case between it and the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) settled out of court.
Umeme Ltd had in March 2012 petitioned the Electricity Disputes Tribunal (EDT) to quash ERA’s amendment of the former’s power supply licence. Umeme claimed it had not been consulted before the amendment.
Following the amendment in February 2012, ERA started clawing back the ‘free cash’ Umeme would get from excess electricity sales.
Ideally, Umeme should have been passing on that money to the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited, which buys electricity from the generation companies and sells it to distribution companies such as Kilembe Investments Limited and West Nile Rural Electrification Company Limited, among others.
The EDT was due to deliver the ruling on the petition yesterday (Thursday, March 31).
However, EDT chairman, Mr Charles Okoth–Owor, said the EDT will delay its ruling for at least one week.
“The parties [Umeme and ERA] are holding discussions [over the matter], Mr Okoth–Owor told Daily Monitor during a telephone interview yesterday.
The adjournment comes against the backdrop of a March 23 letter by Umeme’s lawyer in the matter, M/s Kasirye, Byaruhanga & Company Advocates to EDT’s registrar.
“We have been instructed by the Appellant [Umeme] to request the Electricity Disputes Tribunal to defer delivery of its judgment for a period of 60 days from scheduled date,” read an excerpt of the letter seen by Daily Monitor.
“This request is necessitated by an ongoing dialogue between the parties, intended to amicably resolve the issues pending adjudication before the tribunal.”
In response, Ms Winnie Nabukenya, wrote back saying the tribunal is agreeable to the request to defer the delivery of its judgment for 60 days starting March 31.
However, she added, Umeme would have to get a nod from ERA for an adjournment.
Over the last two weeks, the accounting officers of the ministries of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and that of Energy and Mineral Development as well as Umeme and ERA top officials have severally been meeting over the matter.

Contention
The Electricity Disputes Tribunal (EDT) has been deliberating since 2012 over whether Umeme (power distributor) should ‘keep’ the extra money got from ‘excess’ electricity Uganda generates and sells. EDT says they have finalised the assessment, advising Umeme to get a nod from ERA for an adjournment. EDT has agreed to defer their judgement for 60 days.

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