Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has directedthe 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) to formally wind-down, by November 1, 2016, the alternative meter financing scheme it initiated in 2013.
The commission said the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI), which allows electricity consumers self-finance of their meter acquisition and installation given that Discos were unable to promptly deploy meters to them, would now seize to exist from November 1.
The commission said in a letter to the Discos that between November 2013 and June 2016, only about 500,000 meters were deployed by the 11 Discos with in their networks with less than 35 per cent of that directly done by the Discos.
NERC’s acting chairman, Dr. Anthony Akah told THISDAY in Abuja that the directive to the Discos to close-down the CAPMI scheme was based on the pronouncement of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, that the Discos have done badly with meter deployment even after collecting monies from consumers.
“It should be recalled that the CAPMI initiative, which was instituted in 2013 was designed to assist the Discos in providing alternative financing options for reducing the very dire metering gap that was estimated to be above 50 per cent (courtesy report submitted by the a metering committee headed by the tate Barr. BamideleAturu) in 2012.
“The commission then invited stakeholders including all the Discos, meter service providers, local meter manufacturers and other importers of metering instruments to assist in articulating a scheme that would assist in reducing the suffering of customers from estimated billing.
“The Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation was then articulated to incorporate a framework for easy procurement by Discos based on a bid document that reduced the time lag and focused mainly on ability to supply and install the meters within 45 days from when a customer paid the stipulated fee,” he said.
Akah said while the scheme will be formally closed by November 1, the commission expects that Discos would meter all the customers who have so far paid for meters under the CAPMI scheme and not collect any form of payments for meters between now and when the program will end.
He further said on the decision to close down CAPMI: “A number of audits carried out by the commission revealed that most electricity customers were not being metered even after making payments beyond the agreed 45 days.
“Some Discos were merely selling meters to their customers in the disguise of implementing the CAPMI. Some Discos were reprimanded for their non-compliance to the CAPMI order, yet there was minimal improvement in meter deployment.”
“Given the fact that metering is the exclusive responsibility of Discos, the commission issued a number of directives and instituted various compliance and enforcement groups to persuade Discos to improve the meter roll out from both their performance agreement and CAPMI.
“Some Discos neglected their primary obligation to provide electricity meters to their customers at no extra cost to them since it is part of the tariff being paid, but relied only on CAPMI. All these efforts proved ineffective in improving meter deployment.
“Between November 2013 and June 2016 only about 500,000 meters were deployed by the 11 Discos with Discos directly adding less than 35 per cent into the network. This is far below expected metering target,” he added.
According to him, “This led to the pronouncement by the Minister of Power that given the suboptimal performance of Discos in deploying meters even after collecting funds from customers, that the CAPMI scheme should be reviewed and eventually wound down.
“It is in this regards therefore that the commission issued the directive that the CAPMI Programme should wind down in an orderly manner and cease to exist as from the 1st of November 2016.”