16 December 2014, Lagos – The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has directed the various electricity distribution companies (discos) in Nigeria’s Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) to work out fair and ingenious strategies of shedding electricity loads to ensure adequate supply of same in their respective coverage areas.
NERC also enjoined the Discos to initiate and follow-up on periodic trainings of its staff on good customer relations. It noted that such demands, have become necessary in view of complaints of alleged unfair power rationing by the discos, and cases of ill-mannered responses to demands of electricity consumers by staff of the electricity distribution companies.
Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi who issued the warning at a public consultation and fact finding mission on the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI) scheme in Benin, noted that it was important for staff of electricity distribution companies in the country to now appreciate the operational framework of the industry following its privatisation.
Amadi who was represented by NERC’s Commissioner for Engineering, Standards and Safety Regulations, Mary Awolokun, explained that the public consultation was initiated to avail the commission first-hand on the status of Discos’ compliance with the CAPMI scheme and other consumers’ related issues.
Stating the Commission’s interest in fair load shedding by the distribution companies, Amadi said: “They should make sure that every customer gets equal supply of whatever power is allocated to the company. They should not give longer supply to areas where their friends and relatives live; every customer must be treated equally.”
He equally frowned at reported rude attitudes of staff of Discos in discharge of their responsibilities to consumers, saying: “We lay emphasis on staff training, by this, we ensure the Discos train their staff to treat customers as king, we don’t want rude staff around.”
Amadi also apologised to consumers for delayed installation of electricity meter in their homes, majority of which dates back to the pre-privatisation era. The Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), however stated in a presentation that as much 5,000 meters are installed monthly by it, with plans to increase the number to 7,000, thus reducing estimated billing across its coverage area.
BEDC also noted that it has about 800,000 customers captured in its database, out of which only about 300,000 are placed on either prepaid or estimated metering for revenue collection.
Meanwhile, the Commission has also conclude plans to partner with a think-tank consulting firm to further educate electricity consumers across the country on energy conservation in homes and offices.
NERC’s partnership with the firm, Divva Consulting, follows a thorough research on consumers’ electricity consumption pattern across the country, and the observation that most Nigerians still find it quite difficult to differentiate between the old estimated billing system prior to privatisation of the power sector and the prepaid meters currently being used in most parts of the country today.
A statement to this effect was signed by Divva’s lead consultant, Chidi Nwachukwu who explained that the research observed that even with the introduction of prepaid meters, most consumers still leave their electrical appliances such as fans, bulbs, refrigerators and television set running when they are not at home or in the office.
Nwachukwu therefore noted that these appliances consume electricity that are painfully borne by these consumers and that most consumers unfortunately do not realise that with prepaid meters, what they pay as electricity bill is entirely in their hands.
“No doubt this attitude is not unconnected with the old regime where estimated billing was rife and where little or nothing was paid, a situation experts believed was responsible for underdevelopment of the power sector.
The NERC through this programme has taken electricity conservation to the door steps of consumers for their own benefit,” Nwachukwu said.
– This Day