As Nigeria’s power sector nears collapse, DisCos get 14 days ultimatum over non-metering of consumers

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•NERC says 11 power vendors achieved 38.32% performance

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) yesterday issued notices of its intention to commence enforcement action against seven electricity distribution companies (DISCos) over their failure to comply with an Order 197/2020 capping unmetered residential (R2) and commercial (C1) electricity customers charges.

NERC which gave the enforcement notice through its Twitter handle, @NERCNG, said the objective was to ensure consumers in the two categories, who do not have electricity meters installed by the DISCos, are not disconnected from the supply grid.

The power vendors that got the NERC notice include Benin, Enugu, Eko, Ikeja, Kano, Kaduna and Port Harcourt. They were given 14 days beginning from June 4, 2020, to explain why they should not be sanctioned over their alleged non-compliance.

NERC had on February 20, 2020, issued Order No/NERC/197/2020 on capping of estimated billings in Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).

The Order repealed the NERC (Methodology for Estimated Billing) Regulations 2012 and placed a cap on estimated bill to unmetered customers by DisCos in the NESI effective February 20, 2020.

It argued the order was to protect unmetered R2 (Residential-single and 3-phase meters, who consume more than 50kWh per month) and C1 (Commercial-single and 3-phase meters, small businesses) customers from arbitrary billing and to expedite their metering process.

Details of the Order was for DisCos to ensure all tariff class A1 customers were properly identified and metered latest by April 30, 2020. A1 customers are those using grid-connected premises for agriculture, schools, water boards, religious houses, government and teaching hospitals, and others, requiring single or three phase meters.

According to the regulator, unmetered R2 and C1 customers, shall not be invoiced for consumption of energy beyond the price capped in schedule.The capped prices included in the Order, was N1, 872.00 for R2, where consumption is capped at 78-kilowatt hour per month at a tariff of N24 per kilowatt.

Besides, the Order said all other customers on higher tariffs shall be metered by April 30, 2020, failing which they shall remain connected to supply, but without further payment to the DisCos until a meter is installed for them.

Any customer who rejects the installation of a meter must be disconnected by the DisCo.

Meanwhile the Commission has said a total of N193.66 billion invoice was issued to the eleven (11) DisCos for energy received from Nigerian Bulk Electricity Traders (NBET) and for service charge by market operators (MO), while only N74.20 billion of the total invoice was settled, representing 38.32 per cent remittance performance. This represents 0.44 percentage point increase from the final settlement rate recorded for the third quarter of 2019 following the commencement of enforcement action by the commission.

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