Lagos — Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC has increased the prices of meters, SweetcrudeReports has gathered.
Single-phase meters which were sold for, N36,991 now cost N44.896.16 while three-phase has been increased from N67,055 to N82,855.19.
A memo signed by the Chairman of NERC, James Momoh blamed the hike on an increase in foreign exchange.
“In arriving at the approved unit costs, the commission has considered the recent changes in foreign exchange approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the applicable rate available to importers of meter component or fully assembled meters through investors and exporters’ forex window,” Momoh penned in the memo tying the new price to section 19 (d) of the Meter Assets Providers, MAPs regulation.
The MAPs regulation was introduced by NERC after the utility companies failed to meet up with metering instead, preferred the use of estimated billing.
The MAPs regulation allows end-users to fully fund meter acquisition after which DisCos will pay back through electricity units.
In the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) rooted in the Performance Agreement (PA) for the DisCos, the NERC, through the EPSRA Act of 2005 states that power utility companies are charged with the responsibility of metering consumers.
According to NERC, the metering gap for end-use customers is still a key challenge in the industry. The records of the Commission indicate that, of the 10,374,597 registered electricity customers, only 3,918,322 (37.77%) have been metered at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019. Thus, 62.37% of the registered electricity customers are still on estimated billing.
As it stands, an increase in prices of meter will see even a slower pace of acquisition among electricity consumers who have been hit by low income and loss of jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NERC in a recent memo, issued distribution companies, DisCos with 2021 deadline to meter all its customers.
SweetcrudeReports gathered that the deadline was shifted from 2020 to next year due to the pandemic lockdown which has hampered importation of meter parts.
However, some local companies had in the past said all parts for meters could be produced in Nigeria- a move that was rejected by most DisCos in favour of imported parts.
According to them (DisCos), imported parts are far more reliable and cheaper.
With DisCos failing in their responsibility to meter customers, and with majority of customers earning less, while some have lost their jobs, the MAPs is expected to encounter major hiccups as it may be almost impossible for the masses to afford meters at this critical period.
This is a pointer to an unnecessary prolonging of estimated billing circle as according to NERC estimated billing which has contributed to customer apathy towards payment for electricity.
A review of the customer population data indicates that only Abuja and Benin DisCos had metered more than 50% of their registered electricity customers at the end of December 2019.
The NERC in response says it continues monitoring of DisCos’ implementation of and compliance with the provisions of the MAP Regulations to fast-track meter roll-out with the target of closing the metering gap in NESI by December 31, 2021.
“To this end, the Commission during the quarter approved the preferred MAPs for the DisCos that had finalised their procurement process to contracting MAP(s). In total, the Commission had approved 26 MAPs as at December 31, 2019”.