Customers to pay for meters through energy credits in proposed regulation
In the proposed meter regulation by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), electricity customers can repay a self-financed meter acquisition over the course of five years through energy credits.
The proposed rule contained in the draft meter asset providers regulations 2017 obtained from NERC’s website, also provides that electricity distribution companies (DisCos) would source 40 percent of their meter requirement from licensed Meter Asset Providers supplied from local manufacturers.
“The Distribution Licensee shall provide the customer with authorisation specifying the amount to be paid for installation of a meter after inspection of the customer’s premises.
“The customer shall pay to the MAP the full price of the meter as specified in the Distribution Licensee’s authorisation. The MAP shall supply and install such meter at the premises of the customer within 21 working days of the Customer’s payment.
“The Distribution Licensee shall own such meters and shall repay the customers through energy credits over a period not exceeding 5 years.
According to the regulation, DisCos would outsource meter supply to asset managers who passed a competitive bidding process.
It would be the obligation of the MAP to provide urgent metering services to repair or replace the meter and its accessories within two (2) working days as stipulated in the Metering Code.
“The Customer shall have the right to have his meter repaired or replaced in line with the relevant provisions of the Metering Code. Where there is a dispute, the customer has a right to fair resolution in accordance with the Metering Code and other applicable Regulations,” says the proposed regulation.
Based on a draft proposal on NERC’s website, BusinessDay had earlier reported that electricity customers would pay a 15 year lease for meters. This proposed regulation updates the earlier proposal.
Babatunde Fashola minister of Power, Works and Housing last year said a policy to reform meter supply in the country would soon be ready. The proposed regulation would become law after public hearings to get the opinion of stakeholders.
As at 31st July 2017, the number of metered customers in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry stood at 3,451,611, representing about 46% of the total customer population of 7,476,856 on the billing platform of the distribution licensees.
DisCos meet this gap by issuing estimated billing to customers for energy consumed, a method fraught with anomalies. When meters are supplied, accusations of sub-standard meters dog the DisCos.
“It has come to our attention at the market operations that some Discos are increasingly getting involved in the installation of non-compliant meters. We intend to notify the commission (Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission) of these defaulting Discos before appropriate sanctions are applied,” said the Market Operator last month.
On other hand, DisCos complain of customers fraudulently bypassing meters and out rightly stealing power. Eko DisCo last year said they lose about 30 percent of power supplied every year to power theft. Port Harcourt DisCo say it is closer to 40 percent.
To curb the practice, the proposed regulation says “customers shall ensure the safety of the meter equipment, and shall not tamper with or remove it, nor permit access thereto except by duly authorised staff or agents of the MAP/Distribution licensee.”
On the cost of meter acquisition, the draft regulation provides for DisCos to issue a payment security in the form of cash on deposit in an interest bearing escrow or trust account maintained at a bank or other financial institution acceptable to the MAP, provided that the terms of deposit will include a condition that the funds are payable to the MAP upon demand;
Another option is an “irrevocable direct pay Letter of Credit, or other guarantee of payment that shall be executable on demand to the interest of the MAP, provided by a bank or financial institution acceptable to the MAP; or an unconditional and irrevocable guarantee of payment on demand to the MAP by any bank or financial institution acceptable to the MAP.”
According to NERC, the main objective of the proposed regulation are to encourage the development of independent and competitive meter services in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) and eliminate estimated billing practices in the NESI.
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