LEADERSHIP Sunday’s investigation revealed that uncertainty still surrounds government’s implementation of electricity meter policy which many describe as exploitative, especially in the face of many challenges facing the Discos whose responsibility it is to ensure customers are adequately metered.
Part of the challenge, according to some stakeholders, is government’s regulation and lopsided policy that has not totally allowed full deregulation of the sector.
The 11 Discos operating across the country have so far collectively provided 403,255 meters to their customers in a concerted effort to bridge the metering gap in the country. Recent Figures from the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) indicate that out of a 6,159, 775 customers only 3,206,599 customers or 52 per cent have so far been provided with meters leaving a yawning gap of 2,953,176 unmetered customers.
The Federal Government had at various times made promises to tackle electricity meter-related challenges but the problem which gave rise to the exploitation of consumers largely remains unresolved.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the statutory agency mandated to regulate and monitor the electricity industry in 2012 said pre-paid meters would be provided free to consumers and that provision had been made for free installation of the meters in the new electricity tariff which took effect from June 1, 2012.
NERC also claimed that the Discos had been provided with funds to ensure the success of the campaign billed to last for 18 months. But a counter directive was issued shortly after requiring consumers to pay between N25,000 and N50,000 under the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI).
Unfortunately, there appears to be no headway as consumers continue to groan under huge bills under the unpopular estimated billing process. Also, the Discos, despite close monitoring by NERC have clearly said customers would have to stay without meters even for upward of two years.
However, Local meter manufacturers say they are ready to meet the demand for meters, particularly with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) new policy of regular release of forex into the market. but a consensus has not been reached between all parties involved.
The new electricity tariff introduced by the NERC under its Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) 2015, became effective on February 1, 2016. Under the new tariff, residential customer category (R2) in the Federal Capital Territory, Niger, Nasarawa and Kogi States served by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) franchise, who previously paid N14 per kilowatt/hour, will now pay N23.60 per kilowatt/hour.
Similarly, residential customers in Eko and Ikeja electricity distribution areas will be getting a N10 and N8 increase respectively in their energy charges. The same applies to residential customers in Kaduna and Benin electricity distribution areas who will see an increase of N11.05 and N9.26 respectively in their energy charges.
Many Nigerians have continued to express dissatisfaction with the implementation of the new tariff, just as some commercial and residential consumers groan under huge estimated bills, incessant power outages, lack of prepaid meters and ageing equipment, associated with the Discos’ neglect of the electricity sector.