Nigeria: Govt, stakeholders highlight metering woes

*NEMSA to begin ranking of electricity firms

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

11 February 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal government and other stakeholders in the sector has dedicated the February monthly meeting to strategising and assigning specific roles to agencies with a view to resolving most of the challenges currently facing the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).

electricity-meter

Electricity meter

At the second monthly meeting of operators in the power sector which was chaired by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, all electricity distribution companies (Discos) promised more aggressive commitment to metering.

In a communiqué issued after the meeting which took place at the Alagbon Transmission and Distribution Complex of the Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Lagos, all the DISCOs also agreed to improve customer service delivery by strengthening the operations of their customer centres and providing dedicated phone numbers to ensure consumer complaints within their jurisdictions are promptly responded to.

Poor metering is one of the major challenge bedevilling the power sector, a development which members of the organised labour has insisted the Discos must first address before an increase in electricity tariff can be effected.

Many unmetered electricity consumers are placed on estimated billing by the Discos, with their tariff fixed at a certain benchmark, often without recourse to the amount of power supplied. There have been numerous complaints about such estimated billing being arbitrary, unfair, and exploitative.

The operators, who were fully represented at the highest executive management level at the meeting convened in furtherance of the commitment of the federal government to adopt a hands-on approach in identifying, discussing, and finding practical solutions to challenges confronting the NESI, committed to aggressive metering which was identified as an area of critical concern.

Also, in view of the need to reduce the level of electricity-related accidents, the NEMSA emphasised the need to improve safety standards by Discos and their contractors in order to reduce accidents and deaths.

The agency further underscored the health and safety issues of the sector and the need for improvement in responsiveness to such issues.

To this end, the stakeholders agreed that the NEMSA would start ranking Discos for safety compliance and accident reduction as well as applying sanctions for non-compliance.

Meanwhile, addressing interface issues while submitting and discussing ongoing plans to review and resolve the issues, the TCN also identified 51 issues affecting supply in areas like Alaoji, Sokoto, Ahoada, Damaturu, Gbarain, Calabar, Afikpo, Ikeja, Kebbi, Jos, Kaduna, Makurdi, Kainji, Otukpo, Bauchi, Katsina, Daura, Abuja, and Maiduguri, among others, to be resolved.

On its part, the NNPC presented their plans which are expected to add significant gas supplies for power generation. The sector expects an addition of 220 million standard cubic feet per day (mmsfcd) by the end of the first quarter of 2016, and 785mmsfcd by the end of the second quarter of 2016.

Present at the meeting were the managing directors and chief executive officers of generating companies (GENCOs), DISCOs, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) as well as various government agencies, such as the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET), Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), and the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA).

The oil and gas industry was also represented by senior executives of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Gas Aggregating Company of Nigeria (GACN), and the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) with the aim of intensifying efforts to resolve bottlenecks associated with gas supply to the power sector.

The organised labour including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)and Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Monday, staged a nation-wide protest against the recent increase in electricity tariff by an average of 45 per cent.

The union leaders picketed power firms across the country are demanding that power supply and metering be improved upon before any tariff hike.

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