DISCOs: Stalled In The Installation Of Prepaid Metres
• As Govt Orders Them To Submit Metering Plan • EEDC Still Charging For Pre-paid Metres • IBEDC Charges Between N35,000 And N50,000 Per Customer • Benin Electric Still Experimenting • As Free House Metering Commences In Lagos
The National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) may announce metering plan by Distribution Companies in the country next week, when it is expected to unveil new tariff for electricity consumption countrywide. The commission had since ordered them to submit their metering plan for close monitoring.
The chairman of the commission, Sam Amadi, said last week that any of the companies that failed to work according to the plan submitted would be sanctioned, adding that the plan was necessary because it will not be possible to install metres in every home at the same time.
The order for the submission of metering plan came on the heels of the commencement of metre installation in some parts of Lagos metropolis, where residents have expressed concern on the nature of metres being installed and the manner of installment.
Many of the metres in Ikorodu and Magodo areas of the city are mounted on electricity poles close to each of the houses. Others are being mounted on fences and building walls unprotected from the harsh effect of the weather, fuelling fears among residents that they might not be durable after all.
A resident at Benson Road, Eyita area of Ikorodu, where the meters were recently installed, Mr. Richard Okesuna said; “ the metres in my house were mounted on the electric pole unprotected from the effect of the rains and the sun.
“They mounted four metres on the pole close to my house. We tried to convince them on the need to put them where they will be protected from the sun and rains, but they refused. So we allowed them to do the thing in their own way. But I hope these things will not stop functioning one day because of the rains and the sun. As water continues to penetrate this system, they will stop working one day and we will go back to their estimated billing system. That is my fear and that will be too bad, “ he said
Other residents in Magodo said they were more concerned about the durability of the metres than their security, because of the way they were installed.
But the Executive Director of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, Mr. Sunday Oluranti Oduntan allayed the fears of residents, when he said the metres are waterproof and cannot be damaged by the effect of weather.
“We decided to mount them on the poles, where it will be impossible for anybody to by pass them as they are presently doing to analogue meters. The new metres are like the transformers that have never been damaged by weather, whether rain or sun. They are waterproof and cannot be destroyed by water. So they are safe and durable,” he assured.
According to him, under the new metering programme, every apartment will be provided a metre, while service wires will be provided by customers to connect their individual apartments to the grid, just as each of the apartments would be provided a smart device to be mounted at a preferred location for consumption monitoring and recharging.
He also confirmed that only few DISCOs have keyed into the new metering programme, adding that others are now mounting, on demand the Credit Advanced Metering Implementation (CAPMI) for customers not willing to wait for the smart metres, the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). They will however migrate to the new metres whenever they are available.
The Managing Director, Ikeja Electric (IE), Abiodun Ajifowowbaje, said about 58,000 metres were bypassed within Ikeja distribution area since the time the company took over in 2013, hence the adoption of AMI system.
“We have rolled out our infrastructure and we will be doing 12,000 on a monthly basis. We hope that we will soon hit 15,000 monthly as soon as our contractors have mobilised for more team. As I am talking to you, after the installation of 2,000 as pilot scheme, we have installed another 8,500. This month alone, we have over 10,500 meters installed and we are poised to hit the target by the end of the month.”
He emphasised the importance of the smart meters, saying, “These meters are futuristic. People only raised concern about the delay. They are asking why are we not doing CAPMI etc. But a good businessman, who wants to succeed, must study what is in operation and find a way to improve on it for the betterment of the customers and the company itself.
“By the time we finish the assessment, we discovered that the best thing for us is to go for Advance Metering Infrastructure (AMI). These are smart metres and we can easily monitor and manage them from our office. Even the customers can easily monitor it on a daily basis, so its good for you to regulate what you are using and it is good for us to monitor and manage what we supply.
Continuing, he said, “There are two types of installations. The one installed on the poles and the other one in customers’ premises. Those on the poles consist of about 4-6 metres together. The AMI metering scheme has taken off fully, and we have mapped out our timetable on how we are going to cover our customer network and the meters are free.”
The Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) recently unveiled plans to expend about N50b on the prepaid metering devices in the next three years.
The Managing Director, EKEDC, Oladele Amoda, who disclosed this during the quarterly press briefing in Lagos said the company is planning to install about 400,000 metres in the network, adding that it had already taken delivery of 7,500 maximum demand metres and 50,000 non-maximum demand meters, procured at about N5.8 billion.
“These metres constitute only the first phase of our metering plan that will see all our close to 400,000 customers metered free of charge,” he said, adding that, “installation of the first phase meters had already begun.
The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) promised to commence the new metering programme in the five states of the Southeast from December.
The company said it has however commenced the installation of CAPMI, on demand, in hotels and companies, institutions and for individual homes that are not willing to wait for the AMI installation programme to commence.
According to the Public Affairs Manager of EEDC, Eugene Aniowo, the company has embarked on the enumeration of customers in the zone with a view to knowing their location for improved services. The new metering system, which comes in single and three phases will be rolled out after the enumeration, he said.
Explaining the process for acquiring the CAPMI, which is in line with
the directive by NERC, he said that a customer would receive the metre after 45 days of payment.
Although he did not disclose the cost of the meter, he said, all customers are expected to get a refund with 12 per cent interest in three years from the time of payment.
“It is such that gives credit in advance and there is a percentage
interest the customers get. It is essentially for those who cannot
wait for us to roll out the metering programme, which will almost
be free for the customer,” he said.
The Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) has begun an experimental programme for metering customers, using High Voltage Distribution Substation (HVDS). The company said the new device would reduce energy theft, through by-pass of metres. Like in Lagos, the meters are mounted on electric poles to serve a limited number of houses for effective monitoring.
Investigations revealed that the first phase of the experimentation exercise has started in Erediauwa Area, off Ekenwan road, Benin City, where residents said so far they have not experienced hitches.
Speaking on the development, Public Relations Officer of BEDC, which is in charge of power distributions in Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti states, Curtis Nwade; said; “we are already installing those metres. We have what we call High Voltage Distribution Substation, which are mini transformers that are mounted on top of the pole. They are between 25 and 50 kva. The metres are mounted on top of the transformers and the parts for loading your credit is on your wall in your house.
“The essence of it is one, we want to discourage this attitude of customers by-passing our metre; two, the problem of low voltage will no longer be there because we have very few customers of between four to 10 connected to each of the transformers.”
Unlike the Ikeja DISCO, Ibadan DISCO is mounting CAPMI, otherwise known as Trade Advance Payment For Metering, for which it is collecting between N30,000 and N55,000. Inside sources said, even at that, only about 2,000 had been giving out to willing customers.
“We did metre roll out, which should be between 1,000 and 2,000, but we have intention to start massive deployment of metres in 2016, which would not get to everybody at once,” one of the marketing managers at the DISCO said.
In Abuja, the DISCO is yet to commence free installation of free pre- paid metres, but about 350, 000 of about 700,000 total customer base in the entire franchise area of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) are without metres.
Abuja Disco, which covers the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger States, says it will soon unveil a scheme to provide meters for most of its customers.
Managing Director of Abuja Disco, Mr. Neil Croucher, in an e-mail exchange with The Guardian, however noted that the sum of N2 billion has been injected into the company, with a view to improving its network assets and infrastructure.
“We will install 500,000 meters; 100,000 per annum, for a period of five years, after we must have completed the pilot scheme of free metre installation totaling 35,000 for which Minna in Niger state and Life Camp in FCT have been selected.
The indigenous operators, under the aegis of Electricity Meter Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (EMMAN), have expressed readiness to play critical role in the growth of the power sector.
The Executive Secretary of the Association, Muideen Ibrahim, said, the local content law for the power sector will not only protect the indigenous players in the evolving power sector, but also have positive impact in the economy by raising Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and providing employment and business opportunities for Nigerians.