The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, has made it clear that the Distribution Companies are expected to comply with the capping order as they don’t reserve the right to pick what rule to obey or discard.
However, NERC agreed that there are monitoring and implementation challenges that need to be addressed due to shortage of staff capacity, irrespective, it assured that the commission is still well equipped and trained to carry out its mandates.
Reacting, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, AEDC, stated that distribution of meters has not stopped, but slow as a result of the corona virus in China which is the major source of the metering components.
NERC and AEDC spoke during a live Wednesday Program – Public Conscience on Radio, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, in Abuja.
PRIMORG hosted Manager, Consumer Affairs, NERC, Olisa Chukwuma and General Manager, Corporate Communications, AEDC, Oyebode Fadipe, while discussing the issues estimated electricity bills and the new Capping Policy and how to eliminate corruption in the power distribution system.
On how to apply capping, the NERC representative said three approaches were considered with one adopted. Applying this, the discos would have to divide regions into businesses or sub-units where customers are grouped.
“So, what we did is that we got data from the 11 discos and looked at the metered customer and a neighboring unmetered customer to tell their consumption over a period of time, conducting integrity tests and taking averages to come up with satisfying results.” He said.
Earlier, he disclosed that regulations for Meter Asset Provider, MAP was released in 2018 to attract private sector operators into the metering space in order to lift the burden from the distributors.
” In 2018, Capping was also embedded in Section 31 of the Map regulations where it was stated that 120 days after the regulations were signed, there would be capping of estimated billings, but It never stated the methodology for implementation.” He revealed.
Giving statistics, Chukwudi said in Nigeria today, there are 10 million registered electricity users out of which an estimated 60% are unmetered, that is 6 million are not metered and rely on estimations.
He said the previous order on the calculation of estimated billing was not really adhered to due to structural and infrastructural deficiencies on the part of the discos leading to several complaints
“2019 alone, there was an excess 500, 000 complaints on different issues with 65% on metering and billing which brought in the need for the MAP Regulations.” He said.
Continuing, AEDC’s GM on Corporate Communications, Fadipe lauded NERC for the capping policy but lamented that the discos are also suffering a loss as a result of energy theft which can be perceived as the corona virus of the electricity sector.
Fadipe also admitted that energy consumers with estimated bills mostly suffer the weight of the charges allocated to an area, adding that Nigerians should not perceive the discos as always wanting to short-change customers.
In an instance he gave, Fadipe noted that a customer with estimated billing suffers mostly amidst a metered and an illegal-connection energy consumer.
He said the major problem identified as a setback was the initial liquidation process and the lack of effective fiscal policy in the power sector.
On tariff increment, he said both the macro and micro economic circumstances of consumers will be considered before allocating, adding that MAP has not entirely failed as some customers are also rejecting meters.
“It is driven by customers and not by us as we (AEDC) has done what no other discos has done. We now take meters to customers, but unfortunately, we are supposed to meter about 900. 000 customers but have not even metered up to 90, 000 purely on the basis of customer response ratio.” He said.