- By Anayo Ezugwu
THE National Council on Power, NACOP, has approved the return of the Credited Advanced Payment for Metering Implementation, CAPMI, scheme which was suspended last year by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, in order to reduce the metering gap in the Nigeria. It has also directed the NERC to restore the scheme, which allows a willing customer to pay for his meter.
NACOP, in a statement issued at the end of its meeting and published on the website of NERC, asked the regulatory body to reinstate regulations permitting willing customers to purchase meters from approved meter vendors as approved by the electricity distribution companies, Discos, and the Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency, NEMSA, with a framework to reimburse such customers in cash or energy.
It also asked NERC to issue a regulation that enables third party meter providers to install and manage customers’ meters, provided that such third parties are certified by the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency, NEMSA, and approved by the Discos based on available metering standards. NERC is also to provide a framework for compensating the investment made by meter service providers in cash or shares in the Discos.
The council, which comprises of Babatunde Fashola, minister of power, works and housing, Suleiman Hassan, minister of state for power, works and housing, and members from 27 states of the federation, agreed that meters should, as much as possible, be manufactured and assembled in Nigeria and where the need arises to import materials for their manufacturing, they should be exempted from customs duty.
The NERC had in late September during the stakeholders’ consultation it held for the north central zone on Multi-Year Tariff Order, MYTO, methodology, proposed introduction of modified CAPMI, saying it would fast track the exercise. However, some bottlenecks identified with the scheme forced the NERC to abolish it when it issued a deadline of November 1, 2016, for the Discos to discontinue the practice.
Realnews reported that part of the proposal which generated a long heated debate on the floor was the recognition of middlemen to be known as Meter Service Providers, MSPs, who would provide and monitor the procurement, installation and management of meters, thus taking the responsibility off the shoulders of the Discos.
Explaining the rationale behind the proposal, NERC said it would quicken the metering step thus closing the existing gap in no time and eliminating meter bypassing as well as energy theft due to the enhanced vigilance and monitoring by the MSPs while guaranteeing revenue protection for the Discos and repayment to customers. Most of the stakeholders spoke in favour of the consumers paying with the guarantee of getting the meter immediately instead of what they claimed have been the practice where many Nigerians were made to pay, though against the rule, and cannot get meter for up to two, three years.
While urging that painstaking enumeration be conducted quickly to know the true number of customers as many believed that the figure given by NERC was too small looking at the size of Nigeria, some speakers argued that the liquidity challenges being faced in the industry is not as a result of low or non-cost reflective tariff but the inability of the revenue collector, the Discos to collect at least a great percentage of the monies owed from customers.
They, however, urged that consideration be given to the so many members of the masses who are so poor and cannot afford to pay for meter, especially residents of low brow areas in the regulation. Stakeholders agreed that NERC ensures that reliable and easy data collection mechanism that would give unambiguous information on how energy is consumed and calculated is embedded in the meter technology while concerted efforts are made to enlighten and educate electricity consumers on the usage.
Another aspect of the proposals was the idea of franchising (rural/urban) under which Discos will be allowed to transfer their franchise to agents who would retail electricity to communities or specific areas on their behalf at an agreed discount while the end-user tariff remains as approved by NERC in line with MYTO.
The NERC had ordered the Discos to formally wind-down the alternative meter financing scheme it initiated in 2013 by November 1, 2016. The commission said between November 2013 and June 2016, only about 500,000 meters were deployed by the Discos within their networks with less than 35 percent of that directly done by the Discos.
– Nov 3, 2017 @ 14:02 GMT |