Buhari Directs Massive Electricity Metering Exercise 

Joseph Bakare

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that there should be a nationwide mass metering programme for electricity consumers in the country.

This is to put an end to estimated and arbitrary billing for electricity, according to a statement issued by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, and signed by its Executive Chairman, James Momoh.

The statement from NERC reads, “The President has directed that there should be a nationwide mass-metering program in an effort by the Federal Government to put a stop to estimated and arbitrary billing for electricity.”

The Presidency, in its tweet post on its official Twitter handle, stated that the Federal Government is working to ensure that Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) commit to increasing the number of hours of electricity supply every day and also improve on their quality of service.

It also stated that President Muhammadu Buhari remains committed to the protection of poor and vulnerable Nigerians from increased electricity tariff and arbitrary/estimated billings.

The Presidency had earlier announced the approval of a one year waiver of import levy on electricity meters so that Nigerians who do not have meters can be supplied as early as possible at a reasonable cost.

It would be recalled that last year, in a bid to fast track the roll-out of meters to electricity consumers, NERC introduced the Meter Asset Providers (MAP) programme.

Under the scheme, the regulation provides for the third-party financing of meters, under a permit issued by the Commission, and amortised over a period of 10 years.

The Electricity Distribution Companies, DisCos, in line with their licensing terms and conditions, are obliged to achieve their metering targets as set by the Commission under the new regulation.

This was slowed down because of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic as well as other challenges.

Momoh urged the public and all stakeholders in the power sector to disregard any reports of an arbitrary tariff increase affecting Nigerians.

He said that measures had been put in place to protect the poor as well as vulnerable in cases of tariff reviews.

The chairman explained that tariff reviews would only follow service-based principles.

“Under these service-based principles Distribution Companies (DISCOs) will only be able to review tariff rates for customers when they consult with customers; commit to increasing the number of hours of supply per day; and quality of service.

“In all cases, poor and also vulnerable Nigerians will not experience any increase; in line with these expectations, DISCOs are directed to engage with their customers on a Service-Based Tariff structure.

“Under the Service-Based Tariff Structure, DISCOs can only review tariffs for customers under the following conditions:

“Customers are consulted and communicated a guaranteed level of electricity service by the DISCOs; based on hours of supply.

“No estimated billing through the strict enforcement of the capping regulation; this means that unmetered customers will not experience any cost increase beyond what is chargeable; to metered customers in the same area,” he said.

He said that under the aforementioned conditions, there would be no change in tariffs for the most vulnerable; as tariffs for those consuming 50KW or less remained frozen.

According to Momoh, customers receiving less than 12 hours of supply will also not experience any change in tariffs.

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