21 May 2014, Abuja – Power consumers that do not have meters and are on the estimated billing system will have to continue with the payment of ‘crazy bills’ as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has said the metering gap in the sector cannot be closed in a short while.
Although NERC explained that it was working hard to make sure that electricity distribution companies provided meters for their customers, it noted that the metering gap in the country was huge.
The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, while speaking on the sidelines of an event in Abuja on Monday, said, “Our expectation is that metering will increase, but let us be very careful. The metering gap in Nigeria is about 50 per cent and we don’t expect that gap to be closed in a short while. What we expect to see is significant and consistent effort by the distribution companies to keep metering their customers.
“Of course the gap can close quickly if increase in capacity results in increase in revenue, and the regulator will benchmark that increase in revenue. But we expect to see continuous and good effort by the Discos to meter their consumers and quickly close down the gap. But the gap will still be there for some time because it is a huge gap.”
On the methodology employed by the Discos in billing non-metered consumers, Amadi said the commission had educated the power firms on how to go about it properly.
He said, “We worked them through the methodology and this is because some of them are new in the sector. By this methodology, before the Discos estimate your bill, they would have looked at the energy supply in that cluster.
“They would have looked at the metered customers in that cluster and be able to have a much more accurate estimation. What is going on now in some cases is not estimation, it is just arbitrary way of tariff and we have expressed a very strong disapproval on that. Give and take, there will be some margin of error, but it will come close to some level of accuracy.
“A consumer should also be able to benchmark his bill based on what his metered neighbour is receiving as tariff. So, if, for example, an average customer in your area pays N5,000 or N10,000 and your Disco is giving you N15,000 bill, that is a smoking gun.”
Amadi said such customer should contest the validity of the bill “and by regulation, they (Discos) should be able to respond to you within a given time. And if they fail, you can go to the forum office to make your complaint.”
The NERC boss noted that there were sanctions against any Disco that failed to comply with the recommendations of the forum office or the regulator if such complaints were just.
– The Punch