03 June 2015, Abuja – The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on Tuesday revealed its plan to put a ceiling on the quantum of consumption that unmetered customers in a particular class could be billed by estimation in any particular month.
While NERC made its plans public during a stakeholders’ consultative forum at its headquarters in Abuja, the operators of power firms lambasted the commission over moves to make the system operator in the Transmission Company of Nigeria an independent entity in the national electricity supply industry.
In a presentation at the forum, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent, NERC stated that the ceiling would provide incentive for the electricity distribution companies and boost their capacity to meter customers as well as enhance their revenue.
It said, “The commission is considering to put a ceiling on the amount of consumption that unmetered customers in a particular class could be billed by estimation in a particular month. This initiative is aimed at incentivising the distribution companies to accelerate their metering to guarantee their distribution revenue collection.
“Shortfalls will encourage faster metering and improvement in revenue in the long run. The CAPMI intervention will assist customers with low average consumption through refunds. It is proposed that the capping process will be implemented after a moratorium of three to six months to allow the Discos to appropriately adjust their metering programme.”
NERC said it was expected that all estimates being imposed by the Discos within the moratorium period shall be strictly based on the commission’s billing estimation methodology.
Explaining the framework for the capping, the power industry regulator told the Discos that a number of options/models were available for deliberation and adoption.
It listed the options as capping by building size, by load, by energy consumption and by the amount paid per month.
NERC also explained that it came up with the capping methodology as a result of the dire consequences that the non-metering of customers had on the power sector.
It noted that its efforts to accelerate metering had proved abortive, stressing that many customers were still groaning under high estimated bills that were often not related to the level of energy supplied.
It said, “The commission has had cause to take enforcement action on some operators over arbitrary and outrageous estimation. It is evident that the incentive for non-metering is the unrestricted estimation and this puts undue burden on customers.”