Paul Osuyi, Asaba
The Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), has assured consumers that pre-paid meters would be made available to all within the next two years.
The Commission said the supply of pre-paid meters has been deregulated as investors have been empowered by law to supply meters to customers.
In the interim, NERC said there is a bill before the National Assembly seeking to address the recurring issue of estimated or outrageous billing system adopted by Distribution Companies ( Discos) for consumers who are not metered.
The chairman of the Commission, Professor James Momoh, stated this at the weekend in Asaba, Delta State, during a public consultation forum with the theme: ‘Capping of Estimated Billings and Distribution Franchising.’
Momoh explained that capping is intended to fix a maximum amount that consumers without meters are expected to pay as bills for electricity consumed, noting that the intention was to fast track the provision of pre-paid meters.
On the other hand, he said distribution franchising is a step towards opening up the supply chain in order to empower investors who are interested in supply of electricity components such as circuit breakers, transformers, to be part of the process and make their profit.
“By capping, I mean estimated billings or the so-called outrageous billings that customers used to be charged for not having meters is going to stop. Very simply, it says henceforth there will be a maximum a customer should pay for using electricity in Nigeria if you don’t provide meter.
“The whole idea is that we want to work to make Discos to provide meter. But because of the fact that Discos have not been able to provide meters, although we now have a requirement that meter should be provided within next year or maximum within the next two years.
“Capping will put the mark so that before you get your meter in the instance that you don’t have it, there will be a maximum that you can be charged. And I think it is good for us.
“For franchising, if meters are now provided, it is like a franchise too because we now give investors the privilege to go make some money. It is not only meter that you can make money from, the entire supply chain of electricity from generating power to transmission to distribution.
“But at the distribution end, which is closer to the customer, there are many products that can be franchised. I call that Distribution Assets Providers. Indirectly, they are the franchise activity. There may be transformers, circuit breakers, security etc. that is it.
“We will have a position paper where everybody will agree, and give the investors permit to go to work. Again we will monitor to ensure that nobody is cheated,” he assured.