The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission urges electricity distribution companies to meter consumers before March 1 deadline
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb 13, 2017 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, has warned power distribution companies, Discos, to ensure that the meter their customers by March 1. Hardley BlueJack, head, consumers department, NERC, said power firms failure to meter consumers makes it difficult to measure their energy consumption level accurately.
The power sector has been battling problems such as gas shortage, huge tariffs, funding, and metering which helps provide accurate bills to the consumers. “One of the crises in the industry is how to measure the volume of energy consumed by the customers nationwide. Whenever Discos issue bills to their customers, the customers complain of over-billing. The customers alleged that power firms are charging them excessively. But once meters are well distributed, there would no longer be complaints.”
BlueJack said the sector is battling shortage of meters, adding that attempt to provide either pre-paid or smart meters by the firms, would help customers to know the volume of energy he or she has consumed. He said there would always be issue of estimation in the sector, arguing that it cannot be eradicated completely.
“What NERC is clamouring for is a drastic reduction in the rate of estimated billings. We believe that once meters are many in the country, the issue of estimation would be reduced drastically because people will be able to know how and when they consumed the electricity they are being asked to pay for.”
He, however, said estimated billing will continue to be in the system until meters are provided to customers across the country. “When there are dogs in the house of customers, it would be difficult for the officials of the power firms to ascertain the level of energy, which they have consumed. The next thing is to give them estimated bills,” BlueJack said.
The NERC had on January 11, warned that it will sanction Discos that failed to meter electricity customers in their networks before February 28, 2017. NERC, in a statement on its website, said sanctioning of the defaulting Discos will begin March 1.
It stated that the envisaged sanction was sequel to the initial directives by NERC and the moratorium period given to Discos to meter consumers. The NERC said this was in line with its mandate of protecting the rights of customers had in June 2016 after consultation with the operators, directed Discos to conclude metering of all customers before November 30, 2016.
According to NERC, the commission at the expiration of that notice granted three months moratorium which will expire February 28, to enable the Discos effectively execute the metering deployment plan for their customers.
It stated that any electricity customer yet to be metered as at February 28 should report to the commission through any of its forum offices in all the states of the federation. NERC urged customers that had advanced money to the Discos through the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Initiatives, CAPMI, to make use of the complaint redress mechanism.
“The Commission is by this notice advising electricity customers not to take laws into their hands by attacking staff of electricity distribution companies. They may wish to be guided not to resort to legal proceedings as the first option in seeking redress, but to explore the commission’s redress mechanism to save litigation cost and time.”
The NERC had in September 2016 revealed that over four million electricity consumers in Nigeria are without prepaid meters. It noted that any customer who paid for prepaid meter should be metered within 60 days of payment. NERC also stated that it would ensure refunds were made to customers wrongly billed as well as install the new prepaid meter. He decried the situation where PHEDC workers were attacked by customers in the area, saying that such act was grossly unacceptable.