FG says prepaid meter scheme, a must

electric-meters27 November 2013, Abuja – Indications have emerged that the Federal Government will enforce the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation initiated by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to close the metering gap and curb ‘crazy billing’ in the power sector.

The NERC Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi, told our correspondent on Tuesday that CAPMI would continue to operate even if the DISCOs decided to initiate their own metering programme.

Amadi said, “CAPMI operates until a DISCO starts implementing its own metering plan. CAPMI operates until a DISCO provides a better plan. NERC is an effective regulator. Our plan is to increase our effectiveness and smartness. We will encourage where necessary and sanction when needed. We will bark and bite and also speak softly when necessary. Our focus is to protect the public interest and not grandstand.”

The PUNCH on Friday reported that the new investors, who took over the distribution companies formerly owned by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, had jettisoned the CAPMI scheme initiated by NERC, the power industry regulator of the 10 distribution companies in the country. Only Ikeja and Eko electricity distribution companies have begun the CAPMI scheme as a response to customers’ complaints about estimated billing.

But our correspondent learnt that the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, owned by NEDC/Kepco Consortium, had suspended the prepaid meter scheme, while its Eko counterpart was no longer keen about the scheme.

Its chances of survival at the Eko Distribution Company, according to sources, remain very slim.

The CAPMI scheme was designed by the NERC to fill the metering gap as contained in the Multi-Year Tariff Order II.

The scheme came about due to the slow pace of customer metering by the distribution companies.

It provides a platform for willing customers to pay the cost of the meter into a dedicated account jointly managed by the DISCO and the meter vendor/installer.

Once the payment has been effected, NERC said the customer would have their meter installed within 45 days, by a NERC accredited vendor/installer.

The acting Chief Executive Officer, Ikeja DISCO, Mr. Abiodun Ajifowobaje, had, during the inauguration of the scheme, promised that electricity customers would get the prepaid meters within 45 days.

According to him, customers who pay N25,000 for a single phase or N50,000 for a double-phase meter are expected to get their meters within 48 hours or a maximum of 45 days.

The Federal Government has said it will through the Bureau of Public Enterprises and NERC, continuously monitor the new power investors to ensure that they do what they are obligated to do. This includes bringing in the required investment and addressing customers’ complaints such as efficient metering that will curb ‘crazy billing’.

Analysts, however, said the last had not been heard about the CAPMI scheme.

At the introduction of the scheme in March 2013, the NERC chairman had noted that CAPMI would eliminate estimated billing.

The commission has also accredited a number of local prepaid manufacturers/vendors and installers to implement the scheme.

Pursuant to the order signed by the NERC on May 14, 2013, and the process ‘No objection’ granted by the Bureau of Public Procurement for the procurement of electric meters, the commission said it had accredited nine prepaid meter manufacturers and 15 importers to implement the metering scheme.

In addition to the list of manufacturers and importers, NERC said it had also accredited 38 vendors, 11 individual installers and 61 corporate installers.

Six of the certified meter manufacturers/vendors/installers, who entered into an agreement with the Ikeja Disco for the CAPMI are MOMAS System Nigeria Limited, MOJEC Group of Companies, Chemo-Technics Limited, MBH Power Limited, Unistar Hi-tech System Limited and First Global Excel Resources.

Some of them said the importation of prepaid meters would deter the growth of domestic meter manufacturing.

They said they had to develop capacity ahead of their involvement in the CAPMI scheme in order to boost local content in the power sector.

They argued that if the DISCOs did not patronise them or if the patronage dropped, they would lose investments.

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