Ibadan Disco set to meet metering deadline
Groans under N4.72bn monthly losses
Despite losing $15.2 million or N4.724 billion monthly, the management of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), covering Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Kwara and parts of Niger, Ekiti and Kogi states, has promised to meter all its customers within five years, as directed by industry regulator, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
The promise comes as the Disco groans under monthly losses arising from a number of factors, including high technical losses, unpaid debts by Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), energy theft, vandalism, foreign exchange and a host of others.
Electricity consumers believe that the issue with estimated or crazy billing would end once the Discos obeyed NERC’s directive to meter all customers, to enable all parties monitor power usage in homes and offices. Many consumers have refused to pay such crazy bills preferring to either rely on alternative power through generators or remain in darkness, a development that is a huge economic burden to all stakeholders.
Speaking with a select group of journalists in Ibadan, the Disco headquarters, IBEDC Managing Director and Chief Executive, John Donnachie, disclosed that the company required between N50 and N60 billion to meter all its customers.
He however warned that metering consumers may not be the Midas touch as being presumed, noting that effective and accurate billing cannot be achieved through metering alone, as eight in every 10 meters installed are tampered with, thus resulting in inaccurate billing and attendant huge losses to the distribution companies.
According to Donnachie, “Metering is not the only solution to effective billing, as for every meter installed, 80 per cent of them are by-passed. What we need is to execute severe sanctions on power thieves and those who vandalise electricity equipment. People are not paying because there are no sanctions.”
Nonetheless, he maintained that IBEDC is making efforts to meter all its customers, by investing huge sums in sub-station upgrades, new billing systems and upgrade of customer care centres and more.
Also contributing, IBEDC Deputy Managing Director, John Ayodele, said parts of the Discos plans include “Correctly capture and effectively manage 100 per cent of our active customer base, which integrates our asset register and customer service for tighter control and enhanced service delivery, and meter all customers within five years.”
Others are: implement a verified and robust billing system to enhance transparency and fair billing in order to achieve our aggressive Aggregate Technical, Commercial, and Collections (ATC&C) loss targets; Drive engineering upgrades that focus on enhanced delivery of ‘Quality’ electrification to our Top 100 customers, with tools, systems, equipment upgrade.
Also, efforts are being made to improve our customer service offering by implementing a customer service index and staffing a centralised call centre for focused support and management; and employ, train & develop and reward continuous improvement through performance management tools.
On specific achievements in this regard, Ayodeji said: “IBEDC has completed the metering of all identified maximum demand (MD) customers thereby delivering on NERC deadline of February 28th 2017, while 189,339 meters have been installed for MD & Non-MD Customers from November 2013 – January 2017.”
He added that the Disco also embarked on energy audit, replacement of faulty/obsolete meters and metering of premium customers for higher revenue drive.
However, Donnachie said efforts by IBEDC to improve serve delivery in its areas of jurisdiction are being hampered by the huge monthly losses and associated challenges, noting that Discos are being blamed for all the power issues faced by consumers.
On the losses, the IBEDC boss disclosed that the MDAs have not paid for their electricity consumption for the past three years following the privatisation of the power sector.
He said: “The MDAs debts till date are in excess of N8.2 billion, while MAN is still paying the old rate of N26 instead of the new cost reflective tariff of N104.35/KwH. Also, we have not been able to pass on the forex losses to consumers, so we have a grand revenue shortfall of over N100.14 billion, and we cannot borrow from any bank.”
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, had promised that the MDAs pay all their outstanding debts, threatening to deduct the accruable from their budgetary allocations upon the reconciliation of the figures with the respective parties.
With regard to MAN, members had instituted a court action against the Discos, but recently agreed to an out-of-court settlement. MAN told The Guardian that despite this plethora of challenges, Donnachie is convinced that Nigeria’s electricity sector remains viable, if only all stakeholders will follow the privatisation modules.