The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is planning to introduce a regulation to cap monthly estimated bills issued to consumers by the electricity distribution companies (Discos).
According to the Commission, in every 10 power consumers, six remain unmetered, indicating that estimated billings by the Discos are still prevalent, reports THISDAY.
In the consultation paper on capping of estimated bills, the Commission said the 11 Discos with a customer base of 8,292,840, have been able to provide meters for only 3,591,168, while 4,701,672 have not been metered as at August 2018.
NERC explained that: “In pursuit of eliminating the practice of estimated billing for unmetered customers in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), the Commission approved the Meter Asset Provider Regulation with the main objective of fast-tracking the roll-out of end-use meters for all consumers thus ensuring that customers pay for only what they consume.
“The implementation timeline for closing the metering gap is within three years, hence the need to address the concerns of customers during the transitional period.” Read more: Nigeria signs $60m new country programme with UNIDO
It further stated: “In line with the applicable regulations of the commission, no customer shall reject the installation of a meter on its premises. Distribution licensees shall deny service to any customer who rejects the installation of a meter on its property.”
Media cited NERC stating that the percentage of unmetered customers is standing at 57%, adding that the practice of estimated billing has resulted in payment apathy.
In terms of the proposed regulation, the Commission said it was considering options the following:
- A cap on estimated billing based on the projected average monthly consumption of each tariff class in the Multi-Year Tariff Order model;
- Application of the average consumption of each tariff class within a franchise area as the cap for estimated billing of unmetered customers; and
- Capping the estimated bill of consumers within a business unit to the average vending of the same tariff class within the area.
“The performance agreement executed between the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the core investors in the 11 Discos provide for the installation of end-use meters based on agreed targets. However, the actual performance as at August 2018 indicates that about every six in 10 customers are unmetered and therefore, subject to estimated billing,” NERC stated.
It added: “The practice of estimated billing in the NESI has continued to constitute a major source of complaints by customers in all the Discos.
“This practice has resulted in growing customer apathy to pay their bills leading to huge unsettled Disco invoices and call for urgent metering of unmetered customers and timely reading of customers’ post-paid meters.”