Crazy bills era set to end

Posted by Emeka Ugwuanyi | 16 April 2019 | 1,640 times

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• Abdulkadir Shettima

  Electricity consumers seem to be winning their age-long battle against estimated billing.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) plans to cap the estimated billing system by fast-tracking metering of all customers.

NERC’s General Manager, Finance & Management Services, Abdulkadir Shettima, dropped the hint in a chat with The Nation on the sidelines of the launch of bank consumer and retail financing scheme of Meter Asset Provider (MAP) meter acquisition summit in Lagos yesterday.

Shettima noted that the capping of estimated bills will compel MAP operators to meet targets on the metering policy. The summit, organised by Mojec Meter Asset Management Company, one of the MAP operators, brought together power sector regulator, banks, MAP operators and some Managing Directors of Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) to find solutions to some issues in the MAP metering project.

On why the Commission opted to cap estimated billing when customers look forward to expedited metering when the MAP scheme takes-off next month, Shettima said all customers will not be metered at same time.

Besides, he said that the NERC would not want customers that are not metered early enough to get outrageous bills.

His words: “We are very serious in ensuring all customers are metered at a maximum of within three years and the metering starts from May this year. Because we don’t want the MAPs or the distribution companies to relax and take this project as any other rule or regulation that they will try to circumvent, we came up with several ways to make sure they comply.

“One of the ways is that they post a cash-backed performance bond that can be called upon and they will lose money if they don’t meet their target, the monthly metering requirement.

“The second one is this capping of estimated bills. Currently, customers that don’t have meters are given estimated bills that are ‘crazy’ in some respects. We want to stop that practice.

“There will be a cap; if a distribution company feels that cap is too low and it is losing money, it is incentivised to go and meter that customer. Assuming the cap is N4,000 and the DisCo feels if that customer is metered it can collect N10,000, let it quickly go and meter that customer if it believes the customer’s consumption is up to that.

“The reason we came up with this measure is to ensure compliance with this current metering scheme and to fast-track the level of metering so customers pay for what they consume.

“There is a committee that is working on the capping because a lot of analysis has to be done and also a lot of consultation with all the stakeholders, including the DisCos, MAPs and customer groups to arrive at what is fair, so the cap has to be a cap that is realistic, not too high and not too low.”

According to Shettima, the number of unmetered customers has risen from 4.7 million in December 2017 to five million now.

According to him, MAP operators will pay 2.5 per cent of the total cost of the entire meters’ performance bond.

Shettima said: “For instance, if the meters are N100 billion, they will post 2.5 per cent of the N100 billion performance guarantee and it will be backed by cash.

“It is as a result of this measure that the MAP operators said they will not ask customers to pay unless they have the meters ready and they will meet the 10-day installation deadline from the date the customer pays for meter. So, there will be financial sanctions when an operator defaults in a contractual agreement.

Sourced from The Nation report

Source: News Express

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