23 March 2013, Abuja – Following arguments as to payment for meters by electricity consumers in the country, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), in its attempt to bridge the already existing 50 percent metering gap in the country has reiterated that the meters are meant to be made available free to consumers who pay their tariffs.
But because of some complexities experienced during the take off of the new tariff regime in June last year, the commission said it has decided to work with distribution companies in providing meters for customers who have already expressed interests in paying for their own meters.
The Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Sam Amadi, made this know in Abuja at the presentation of the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI).
He clarified, “For us metering is critical for the commitment that government has in the power sector reform and NERC in the tradition of best practice all over the world says that once you pay your tariff you are also paying for all the services bundled together in the tariff, which includes meter so let’s dispel it once and for all.
“What NERC declared on June 1st is that every consumer who pays tariff need not pay additional money for meter, so when we say the meter is free as long as you are paying your bill you have a right to be metered. Meeting 50 percent metering gap,closing that gap will require a period of time and we benchmarked ourselves for 18 months as a way of giving ourselves a much more audacious challenge.
But six months after that June 1st policy roll-out, we assessed the policy roll-out performance and we discovered that it is not as satisfactory as expected for many reasons – that the MYTO was based on a certain personnel cost, which was no longer available because of discussion with labour, and the increase in operation costs, and of course because the quality of collection is not as good as expected.
Accordingly, he insisted that the policy is not new but only being re-jigged to enable electricity consumers, who expressed interests “to collaborate with the distribution companies to provide meters for themselves faster than the roll out plan.”
He added, “The only change here is that we are providing regulatory support so that those willing consumers will fast track their metering and not become victims of the unintended consequences of some decisions that were reached in the interest of the sector, namely negotiation with labour and other costs that have changed the financial profile of the project.”
*Noel Onoja, Vanguard