Electricity prepaid meters: To be given free of charge by EKEDC

Power Distribution Companies (DisCos) is seeking Central Bank on Nigeria-funded massive meter rollout project to ensure electricity customers are adequately metered.

The intervention they say will prepare Nigerians in advance of the full take-off of the proposed Service Reflective Tariff (SRT).

Speaking on behalf of the DisCos at the House of Representatives public hearing on the power sector on Thursday, the Managing Director of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEC), Ernest Mupwaya, disclosed that historically, the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) provision in Nigeria’s electricity tariff has been inadequate to cover the cost of metering customers.

“Over the years, there has been insufficient investment in customer metering due, largely, to inadequate MYTO CAPEX and uneconomic tariff.  The approved CAPEX for DisCos has never been adequate for comprehensive metering.

“In Q1/2020, the number of registered customers in NESI passed the 10 million point. Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) is growing at an average rate of 75,000 new customers every month; however, many are still connected without a meter. Consequently, the metering penetration has decreased from 45.5 per cent in January 2017 down to 40.3 per cent in March 2020.

“Plugging the metering gap that is in excess of 6 million meters has been slow because even the recently introduced MAP regulations incorporate inappropriate meter pricing and so it is not working as NERC/DisCos expected. The twin effects of the sudden increase in import duties of 35 per cent on meter and NERC’s wrong pricing frustrated the good intentions of MAP.

“The recent capping of estimated billing has also reduced the incentives for consumers to obtain meters under the MAP regulation.

“Paradoxically, in their PIPs, all DisCos committed to meter 100% of the end-users before 2024 through the MAP regulation, reflecting the regulator’s determination that DisCos should hands-off actual metering. As such, DisCos did not include any CAPEX allowance for metering, in case MAP regulation fails.

The DisCos thereafter recommended that since DisCos no longer have a provision in their CAPEX for metering, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should help the electricity supply industry by providing funds for emergency mass metering projects, to take place over a period of 18 months.

They also recommended that the government should grant full waivers on the 35 per cent increased duty surcharged on meters until mass metering is achieved and that an appropriate and commercial price on meters should be put in place by NERC, to achieve mass metering.

“Given NERC’s previous approval period of three years under the MAP regulation, DisCos propose capping to be introduced after massive metering roll out over the next 18 months and NERC should work with DisCos to improve the methodology on estimated billing. This DisCos proposed methodology on estimated billing should be adopted during the emergency meter rollout period,” Mupwaya added.

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