Dr Anthony Akah, Ag Chairman/CEO, NERC

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission threatens to sanction electricity distribution companies who fail to meter maximum demand consumers by December, this year.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has ordered the electricity distribution companies (DisCos) in the country to provide meters to all the maximum demand (MD) consumers under their networks within four months or face sanctions. The commission said it was acting in line with the agreement it reached with the DisCos on the metering conditions of the MD consumers.

It added that failure of the DisCos to comply with the decisions reached at their meetings would attract penalties from December 1, 2016. According to NERC, maximum demand electricity customers are categorised as those connected on the 11Kv (high tension wire) electricity lines, mostly with their dedicated transformers.

They include heavy users of electricity such as commercial business plazas; small scale industries, among others. A statement from NERC directed the DisCos to provide meters for all maximum demand meter customers within their networks not later than the last quarter of 2016.

NERC’s decision to sanction DisCos that may default on its directive was sequel to the rising complaints from all categories of electricity customers over estimated bills they considered irreconcilable with the available power supply.

It noted that while some of the maximum demand customers had indicated their willingness to key into its makeshift metering plan, the Credit Advance Payment for Metering Initiative (CAPMI), which permits willing electricity customer to pay for meter by advancing money to Discos who then install meters to them within 45 days, the DisCos have reportedly remained reluctant to accept their requests.

“The commission frowned at Discos refusal to meter their maximum demand customers under the CAPMI. Customer who subscribes to CAPMI is refunded his money with interest through discounted electricity bills over a period of time. The Commission in its directives observed that most of the DisCos have refused to accept maximum demand customers under CAPMI scheme even as they are fewer in number than the other categories of customers and should have been easily dispense with by the DisCos,” NERC added.

Dr Anthony Akah, acting chairman of NERC, said that any customer who approaches the DisCos for metering under CAPMI scheme must have his or her meters within CAPMI stipulated timeline of 45 days. According to him, the scheme remains as an option for customers but a compulsory requirement for DisCos to implement when customer offers to contribute to metering through CAPMI.

The Discos had in April; this year said they could not provide one million prepaid meters to customers’ yearly target set for them by the Federal Government. They stated that the cap on their capital expenditure was a hindrance to meeting the deadline given to them by the government.

Many electricity consumers in the country have continued to decry the non-provision of prepaid meters by the DisCos, with rising complaints about the crazy bills. As of March 2016, the DisCos had collectively metered just 403,255 customers since they took over, with about three million currently without prepaid meters.

Based on the proposals submitted by the core investors in the DisCos during the privatisation of the power firms in 2013, about 6.52 million new meters will be installed over the course of five years, meaning more than one million will be installed yearly.

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