As part of the measures to bridge the metering gap and end the regime of outrageous estimated billing of customers, the Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) will next month unveil over 100 Meter Asset Providers (MAP) that will supply meters to electricity consumers across the country.
NERC also said plans were underway to increase electricity tariffs in the country, but added that tariffs would only be increased when metering, capacity expansion and quality of service have improved significantly.
Speaking Thursday when he lead a team of officials of the regulatory agency to pay a courtesy visit to the THISDAY Head Office in Lagos, the Chairman of NERC, Prof. James Momoh, said the meter asset providers (MAP) will be approved to sell meters to Nigerians, adding that this will break the monopoly enjoyed by the distribution companies (Discos).
He said with the unveiling, issues around estimated billings will be eliminated, as consumers will no longer receive outrageous bills since everyone will have access to purchase their own meter anywhere in the country from any of the approved providers.
Momoh said, “Estimated billing is not something we recommend at NERC; we met it prior to assuming office. In eliminating it, we have created a technology called MAP, which will allow us to manufacture meters in Nigeria, as well as its installation and merchandising.
“What this means is that customers who need power can now walk up to stores, other than discos, and purchase their meter. This will allow everyone measure the power used and then pay for what has been used.
We have already received over 100 letters of ‘No Objection’ for people who want to be involved in that business. “By this approach, we are closing the metering gaps currently existing with our discos.”
Momoh said the Discos were looking forward to the initiative as it will take away the overwhelming burden of providing meters, and that at the same time, make the consumers happy.
While also stating that plans were underway to increase tariff, the chairman said it will not be done by fiat or arbitrarily, or by just increasing it by 10 per cent or 20 per cent, adding that tariffs increase will be done after some basic things have been put in place.
He said, “We must first make sure the issue of meters has been closed, and then consumers are no longer charged erroneously, and then no one is being charged for not using power.
By the time all these happen, and power performance has improved, we can now review tariffs.
“These are what will give us the benchmark to say since we have been able to provide quality of service, and Nigerians now have 24-hour power, consumers will be willing to pay.
“While we are putting all these in place, we are also making sure that the Discos are not also ripped off. We don’t want them to spend, for instance, N500 to purchase a product and then sell it for N200. So, the entire rate increase will be conditional because we cannot increase rate when efficiency is down. There is no where I can defend that,” he added.
He also cleared the air over arbitrary disconnection of power by electricity providers.
According to him, paying-customers can only be disconnected after they must have been served a 10-working day notice of disconnection.
The NERC boss added that users can also be disconnected if they illegally connect to power.
He, therefore, called on unsatisfied customers to lodge complains to the service providers, adding that when such complaints are not addressed, it should be directed to the commission through the commission’s Forum Offices.
Momoh charged Nigerians to be safety cautious when in contact with naked wires, saying “naked wires should not be touched or de-energised. They should rather be done remotely. Electrocution was not only exclusive to Nigeria, but with western countries as well,” he added.