(NAN)Electricity consumers in Delta have charged the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to enforce the “No Meter, No Billing” rule in the country.
The consumers made the demand on Friday at a one-day NERC Electricity Consumers Public Consultation on the theme,” Capping of Estimated Billing and Distribution Franchising” in Asaba.
Some of the consumers, Mr john Uche, Mr Larry Olise, Mr Sam Obidi, Mrs Ngozi Obi among others described the services of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) in the state as deplorable and reaping off the consumers through estimated billings.
According to them the people of Delta deserve apology from the distribution company and the power regulator for the poor services and neglect.
“Nigerians are not supposed to pay for meters, nor procure transformers, electricity cables among others before being connected to the public power source.
“NERC should make the DISCOs supply and pre-paid meters free to every home and until they do this they must stop given the consumers estimated billings.
“We insist on No Meter, No Billings,” they said.
They, however, pledged to explore opportunities in the distribution franchise and called on NERC to fasten the process of meter supply and installation to every consumer to ensure proper electricity billings in the state.
The NERC Chairman, Prof. James Momoh while addressing the forum, assured them that modalities were being worked out to ensure that the DISCOs stop forthwith the estimated billings.
He said that the capping of estimated billing and the distribution franchise when fully implemented would make consumers better of.
He also said that the meters were not free as consumers would have to pay for them.
According to him, the reason for the consultation is to seek the consumer’s inputs on the issue of estimated billing.
“Capping estimated billing here means that the former estimated billings charged consumers for not having meters is going to stop.
” This consultation is to get consumer’s opinions and options, and when the capping is agreed and the bill passed, there will be a maximum amount consumers should pay if the DISCOs does not provide meters.
“The whole idea is to provoke, promote and make DISCOs to provide pre-paid meters to Nigerians, all over the world, consumers pay for electricity through metering.
“We now have requirement that meters should be provided to all customers in Nigeria but that may take more than one day and we said metering should start May 1st this year.
“This could take time but we have a maximum period of two years to provide meters to all registered customers with the DISCOs.
“But in doing that we have to put a cap to maximum amount consumers will pay so that you will not be over estimated,” he said.
He said the burden of procuring meters had been taken away from the DISCOs though the Meter Asset Procurement (MAP) Programme, the private investors willing to invest and provide meters for Nigerians.
He said that the distribution asset provider which was called distribution franchise would create opportunity for investors to make money providing meters, maintaining and collecting bills.
He said that at the end the whole process that it would pay off and the consumers would no longer spend their monies procuring facilities for the DISCOs to give them electricity as the franchise would take away that burden.
On his part, Mr Abu Ejoor, Executive Director, BEDC said that the company had complied and would ensure the metering of all electricity consumers in the state in line with the directive of NERC.
He, however, charged consumers to always consult with the DISCOs before embarking on procurement of power transformers, other ancillary facilities and avoid connecting electricity illegally.
According to him, it is the duty of the DISCOs to procure electricity materials and to connect consumers to the power source.
He said that enumerations of consumers in the state was on going, adding that when all the processes were concluded, consumers who pay for the meters would be metered.