Saturday, May 18, 2024

Decommissioning of Metres By DisCos: We Gave No Such Directive – NERC

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has said it did not directed the decommissioning of metres by the Electricity Distribution Companies of Nigeria (DisCos).

NERC’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Usman Abba-Arabi, disclosed this on Friday in a statement issued in Abuja.

He also said that the commission did not direct payment of outstanding bills as a pre-condition for acquiring metres under the Metre Assessment Programme (MAP).

He said that the attention of NERC has been drawn to the ongoing practice of some DisCos forcing customers to invest in the replacement of distribution infrastructure such as transformers, cables, etc, as a condition for the restoration of electricity supply.

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“The commission had earlier issued a ‘Regulation for Investment in Electricity Networks’ whereby customers desirous of intervening in the restoration of power supply may invest in the provision of materials and installation.

“The regulation provides that such an arrangement must always be on the basis of an executed ‘Project Agreement’ between the customers and distribution company in which the costs and the mechanism for recovery of the investment are mutually agreed between the parties,” Abba-Arabi said.

He therefore called on customers to report any DisCo that has engaged or is engaged in the practice of forcing customers to supply materials or installation as a precondition for providing or restoring electricity supply.

He also spoke on the practice of some DisCos embarking on the removal of metres from customer premises ostensibly on the regulator’s directive that all metres that have been in use for more than 10 years should be phased out.

According to him, “The commission has issued no such directive to the licensees and no metred customer should be transferred to ‘estimated billing’ on the premise that metres in use for more than 10 years are dysfunctional.

“All licensees must henceforth adhere to the PART III, SECTION 3.5.2 of the Metering Code which states that “if a metering system fault occurs, the distributor shall provide urgent metering services to repair or replace the metering system.

“As soon as it is practicable and in any event within two working days of the distributor discovering that the fault exists.”

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Abba-Arabi also called on customers to report any DisCo that has continued with the decommissioning of metres without immediate replacement.

He assured that the commission was committed to expediting a closure of the metering gap in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry thus eliminating the current unwarranted practice of “estimated billing”.

On customer complains about the issuance of estimated bills and pending the installation of the estimated over 5millon units of metres, he said:

“The commission shall soon prescribe a cap representing the maximum amount that a DisCo may charge an unmetered customer in pursuit of realising the main objective of the Meter Asset Provider Regulations.”

The NERC’s spokesman advised customers denied the opportunity of acquiring metres under the new regulatory framework on account of outstanding estimated bills to contact the commission by sending an email with full details of the circumstances.

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