Consumers owe Ikeja Electric Plc N88 billion electricity bills
Accumulated debt profile of customers under the Ikeja Electric Plc network has hit N88 billion, a development that is hindering the planned metering programme, as most its revenue are stuck with consumers who are reluctant to offset their outstanding bills.
The company also said the increased cost of procurement of meters have slowed the implementation of its programme of metering all electricity consumers under its network.
Spokesman for the distribution company, Felix Ofulue, said during an interactive session with the media in Lagos, that the prevailing economic difficulties in Nigeria have decelerated the substantial progress the company had already attained on metering.
Ofulue said the cost of procuring electric meters had jumped about four times since last year, leading to escalating cost, which was affecting the company’s operations adversely.
“Sustaining the pace of meter roll-out will be at the expense of a number of other activities on the network,” Ofulue said, adding that over 5,000 maximum demand customers within its network have been metered in compliance with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC’s) directive.
He added that the company was presently working out arrangements with some meter-producing companies in Nigeria in order to step up progress on metering, even as it had complied with the NERC’s directive to meter all the existing Maximum Demand (MD) customers in the zone.
Ofulue said all unmetered customers would be reached within the stipulated time, adding that it was not possible for all customers to be metered at the same time because of the costs involved.
He urged customers yet to be reached in the meter roll-out to be patient, saying no customer would be left out, and that the DISCO has an established billing method approved by the industry regulator for billing the unmetered customers based on a number of factors.
He listed those factors to include the customers’ consumption pattern over time, and availability of power supply within the particular month for which the customers were billed.
Ofulue said: “Currently, all our feeders connecting our consumers without prepaid metered have been metered, which will enable them to get fair estimated bills. We are currently metering our consumers in Ikeja GRA and I want to assure all our consumers that they will all be metered.”He attributed the low pace in metering the residential consumers to lack of financial muscle to meter all of them.
“A lot of activities are ongoing now on our network; we cannot concentrate only on installation of meters. Between now and end of the year, we would have done much on metering of our consumers,” he added.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, had promised to increase government spending on improve transmission network and availability of gas supply to Generation Companies. Enhanced regulatory capacity through National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on the need to pay up backlogs of bills and ensure regular payment forthwith, he said “Our Ministry intends to champion at the Federal level, I hope that state Governors, heads of agency, National and States Assembly, Military, police and other security agencies will ensure prompt payment of all their electricity bills.
“More importantly as a government and consumer of power through our ministries departments and agencies, we must show example at federal, state and local governments by paying up backlogs of power bills and ensuring from there that we pay for what we use.