Only 403,255 meters installed by 11 DISCOs in two years, says NERC
Commission to sanction data manipulators
The Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) has accused the nation’s electricity distribution firms of under-performing in the issuance of prepaid meters to customers.
NERC therefore warned that manipulated data with regards to meter installation, submitted by the electricity distribution companies would be treated as a criminal act.
The commission expressed dismay that only 403,255 customers had been metered since the new owners took over operations on November 1, 2013.
NERC was unhappy that Discos manipulate data with regards to meter installation submitted to it and warned that the issue would be treated as a criminal act even as it berated the companies over poor implementation of their metering plans.
Addressing chief executive officers of electricity distribution companies and meter manufacturing companies, the acting Chairman of the commission, Dr. Anthony Akah, described as unacceptable the low number of metered customers by the eleven distribution companies since privatisation of the power sector.
He explained that the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) with 6, 159, 775 customers accounts, has barely 52 per cent metering level of 3,206, 599 metered customers, while it noted a metering gap of over 47 per cent or 2,953, 176 unmetered customers.
The figure, which was presented to the operators, showed that the electricity distribution consumers, as at March 2016, have collectively metered 403, 255 customers since they took over operations on November 1, 2013.
About 38 per cent of this figure or 151,724 were actually financed by the electricity distribution companies, while the balance of over 60 per cent or 251, 531 were financed by the customers through the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI)- an initiative of NERC to close the wide metering gap in the NESI.
Expressing his dissatisfaction with the development, Akah said that the commission was in the process of winding down CAPMI since most of the discos are not implementing it even as they are performing badly in their metering scheme.
‘’In line with the policy thrust of the Ministry of Power, we will work on progressive wind down of the CAPMI scheme. As NERC, we are going beyond our regulatory landscape because you have not embraced the scheme as it should.
‘’People are complaining of being unfairly billed, they are not questioning the tariff as much as the fact that there is no noticeable improvement in supply. We believe we have done what is closest to reflective tariff. We are being challenged, now there is no going back on our protection of the consumers, we are stepping up our enforcement,’’ he added.
Still on his lamentation on the performance of the market players,Akah, said, ‘’it is grossly unfair if I want estimated billing stopped and you don’t provide meters for me. We are working on a massive monitoring; we will ask for names of people who have paid but yet to be metered’’
Some of the distribution companies, while appealing to the commission not to wind down on CAPMI, also expressed their frustrations over the attitude of some customers who would resist metering while some others are in the habit of tampering and manhandling DISCOs’ staff.
Benin and Port Harcourt electricity distribution companies complained that customers go to the extent of tampering with meters installed on electricity poles and that all efforts to discuss with the communities have yielded little results.
In the same vein, Port Harcourt Disco said that the relationship with customers in the area was becoming adversarial and much like war zones, which should not have been the appropriate scenario.
Places like Ahaoda under Port Harcourt DISCO and Ughelliwithin Benin DISCO area were listed as part of the most difficult terrains to operate. This is even as the commission urged the Discos to put in their best in improving quality of service.