The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has said electricity consumers without meters are exposed to unacceptable level of estimated bills.
NERC said the reports of the monitoring exercises it carried out indicated that the implementation of estimated billing based on the applicable regulation had not been strictly complied with by all the distribution companies.
It stated this in a consultative paper on capping of estimated billing for unmetered electricity consumers.
“The challenge of implementing the guidelines of the regulations has further been exacerbated by the widespread inadequate metering and distribution of transformers and feeders, thus placing a considerable burden on unmetered customers who ultimately are exposed to unacceptable level of estimated bills that were, in most circumstances, not objectively determined,” it said.
According to the regulator, the Regulation on Connection and Disconnection Procedures provides that consumers should only be connected to electricity supply upon the installation of an appropriate meter.
It, however, said the terms of the privatisation transaction for the Discos acknowledged the legacy metering gap, and therefore provided for the installation of a specified number of meters under the performance agreement over a period of five years.
The commission noted that prior to the privatisation of the Discos, it had issued a ‘Methodology for Estimated Billing’ Regulations in August 2012 for customers without meters, among others.
According to it, technical challenges in implementing estimated billing methodology include the non-integration of billing platforms for the purpose of determining the estimates of energy consumed by customers with prepaid meters and lack of relevant benchmarks and reporting on minimum supply and load-shedding data.
The document said, “It is the commision’s opinion that fast tracking the roll-out of meters for both energy accounting and appropriate billing of end-use customers is a key prerequisite for the recovery of Nigerian electricity supply industry.
“In consideration of the need to mitigate customer apathy about estimated billing during the transitional period of the provision of the meters under the MAP Regulations, the commision hereby propose to develop a regulation that puts a cap on estimated bills that electricity distribution companies may charge different classes of customers.”
The regulator noted that the performance agreement executed between the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the core investors in the 11 Discos provided for the installation of end-use meters based on agreed targets.
It said, “However, the actual performance as at August 2018 indicates that about every six in 10 customers are unmetered and therefore, subjected to estimated billing.
“It is noteworthy that the key objective of the MAP Regulations is to close the above metering gap within three years of the completion of the procurement process by the Discos.”
According to the commission, the objectives of the consultative paper are to solicit comments from stakeholders on the proposal to set aside the existing regulations on estimated billing methodology, and possible options on the determination of the cap on monthly estimated bills issued to customers.
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