20 December 2016, Abuja – The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is considering a new proposal to decouple the job of procuring and deploying electricity meters to consumers in the various distribution networks from the distribution companies (Discos) and handing it over to meter vending firms, THISDAY has learnt.
THISDAY gathered in Abuja that the proposal though still being studied by NERC and stakeholders in Nigeria’s electricity supply industry would create a new and interlinked metering sector for the industry, responsible solely for the manufacturing and installation of meters to consumers, if accepted for implementation.
Parts of the objectives of the proposal as learnt would be to help create a financially viable metering subsector, one that takes away the responsibility of meter provision to consumers from the Discos.
Accordingly, it would also push for improved local manufacturing of meters to close the country’s current metering gap which is reportedly huge and contributes to electricity revenue leakages.
The proposal would also seek to create meter vending firms that are linked with the Discos across the country, to at the request of the Discos install meters to either new or existing customers. They will also calibrate the meters to bear some biometric details of their users through which instances of electricity theft or meter by-pass could be effortlessly traced and the culprits prosecuted.
The Acting Chairman of NERC, Dr. Anthony Akah confirmed the existence of such proposal to THISDAY. He stated that stakeholders such as the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Discos and others were considering its merit and potential execution in the sector.
Akah explained that the proposal will not completely take off from the Discos the task of providing meters to their customers but the practical execution of such, adding that clear performance indicators would be set, especially with regards to the service level agreements on metering they signed with the BPE.
“The decoupling of the metering responsibility from the Discos and their allowed Capex (capital expenditure), if properly articulated and implemented would accelerate the closing of the huge metering gap, enhance confidence of the electricity customers on the integrity of Discos billing, create opportunity for meter industries to be established in Nigeria, generate employment, conserve foreign exchange and promote the utilisation of local materials in the manufacturing of electricity meters,” said Akah.
He added: “Please note that this is still a proposed alternative metering plan that the Commission has commenced consultation with stakeholders starting with the Discos. It is expected to have the buy-in of the Discos and a review of the performance agreement reached between the Discos and the Federal Government through the BPE to enable seamless implementation, if adopted.”
“The proposed alternative metering, if adopted for the NESI would be implemented without prejudice to existing contracts or committed plans by the Discos or the Federal Government to deploy meters. There will be a timeline for its take off,” he noted.
Akah explained that while the proposal is still being worked out, its implementation may include the meter vending firms deploying meters to consumers on the request of Discos and subsequently deducting payments from the Discos on agreed terms.
- This Day