By Gladys Nweke
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) said it will closely monitor the deployment of meters through the Meter Assets Provider (MAP) Scheme to ensure that customers are metered.
Mr. Moses Arigu, the Commissioner, Consumers Affairs, NERC, said this at the Public Consultation on Capping of Estimated Billing, Distribution Franchising and Competitive Transition Charge. He said that the scheme was designed to tackle issues relating, but not limited to adherence to timeline for replacement of faulty meters, timely metering of new connections and elimination of bulk billing/arbitrary billing.
Arigu said that while customers were being metered through MAP, adding that not all unmetered customers would be metered at the same time.
According to him, those who are yet to be metered should not be arbitrarily billed.
Thus, the proposed order is expected to be catalyst for the Distribution Companies (DisCos) to accelerate or fast-track deployment of meters to unmetered customers.
In the MAP regulation, the commission is to come out with order on Capping of Estimated Billing, which when finalised is to be effective few months after the metering procurement process through the MAP, and this began on May, Arigu said.
Also speaking, Mr Olisa Chukuma, the Manager Consumer Affairs, NERC, said the commission was considering a cap on estimated billing based on the projected average monthly consumption of each tariff class.
On the proposed safeguards on capping of estimated billing, Chukuma said that the order would require that no change shall apply to customers that were currently estimated below proposed cap.
He said this was to protect customers whose consumption was below the average consumption benchmarks in a tariff class, adding that a cut-off date could be used as a reference date of publication of the consultation paper .
The order upon approval by the commission shall be effective within three months moratorium after the completion of the procurement process and engagement of a Meter Asset Provider for the distribution licensee.
Customers with history of metered consumption cannot benefit from the cap. Rather, an average of their previous consumption will be used.
This will discourage customers from vandalising their meters with the hope of benefiting from the lower monthly estimated bills.
Likewise, any customer that resists meter installation should be disconnected from the network and appropriate sanctions shall be applicable in cases of unauthorised access or other forms of vandalism,’ Chukuma said.
He added that there was the need to apply appropriate framework to checkmate load-rejection by DisCos in order to manage gaming.
According to him, this will be ongoing and can supply to metered customers at the expense of un-metered locations within their coverage areas.