Lagos — Distribution of electricity meteres across the country in line with the Meter Assets Provider, MAP has suffered hiccup, SweetcrudeReports can authoritative report.
The setback will have a negative feedback on the three years target for metering all customers set by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC.
NERC had on March 8, 2018 approved the MAP regulations, aimed at fast-tracking the closure of the metering gap in the sector through the engagement of third-party investors for the financing, procurement, supply, installation and maintenance of electricity meters.
DisCos and MAP were directed to commence the roll-out of meters not later than May 1, 2019.
However, several constraints, including changes in fiscal policy and the limited availability of long-term funding, had led to limited success in the meter roll-out, NERC said in February.
The commission noted that the third-party investors for the provision of meters were procured by the Discos, under a competitive framework to provide meters to customers based on multiple financing options.
This prompted NERC to direct electricity consumers who could not wait for the metering calendar of the DisCos, to make payments to MAP operators who will then provide and install the meters in their premises within 10 working days.
Now, with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, many customers who have already paid for meters lament the inability of MAPs to supply and install their meters.
In a response note to SweetcrudeReports, NERC said the pandemic had disrupted the local assembly of meters for supply to electricity customers.
According to the Commission, the current global pandemic “has significantly impacted on the availability of imported components for local assembly of meters for supply to end-use customers under the Meter Asset Provider Regulations and the rollout plan for the existing stock.”
Before the pandemic outbreak, the Commission said MAPs should source a minimum of 30 percent of their contracted metering volume from local meter manufacturing companies in Nigeria, leaving a larger percentage- 70 percent materials to be imported.
However in a twist, the statement said “The commission is currently in discussion with Discos and meter asset providers on the revision of the standards/expectations prescribed in the MAP regulations and the service level agreements executed between the contracting parties”.
The commission said the wide metering gap in the Nigerian electricity supply industry, currently at about 60 percent, “is a major impediment to both an immediate tariff review and revenue protection for Discos.”
According to NERC, customers of the 11 Discos are willing to pay appropriate rates for services rendered by the Discos but the willingness is conditioned on guaranteed hours of supply, quality of power and adequate metering.
In February, NERC announced that it had put limits on the amount power distribution companies could charge unmetered consumers for electricity consumption in a month.
“The significant level of customer dissatisfaction arising from unrealistic estimated bills has also adversely impacted on the market revenues as a consequence of customer apathy and declining willingness to settle their invoices in full.”
With the pandemic shutdown now in operation in states like Lagos, Abuja, Ogun, Osun, Rivers and others, NERC directed that the new electricity tariff which should have come into effect at the beginning of this month, be put on hold for three months.
The metering target is again being threatened especially because there is no visible sign to when the lockdown would finally be lifted to allow for importation of materials for meter production and distribution nationwide.
This boils down to just one thing- further elongation of the estimated/ crazy billing circle.