There is no end in sight for the estimated billings being slammed on electricity consumers under the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company as the company has insisted that it cannot continue its metering scheme under the present high cost of foreign exchange.
This is coming as the company has said it invested about N11billion on network expansion projects within its franchise area in the last three years.
Speaking at a recent roundtable with the media, the acting Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr. Anthony Youdeowei said the company would continue to bill its customers by estimation.
According to him, before they takeover the assets of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) the new owners did not envisage the enormity of the decay of the facilities.
He apologised for the shortcomings of the company in turning things around and promised to ensure that the billing system is reasonable.
“Metering is a huge problem. Estimated billing is here to stay for a while but we want it to be reasonable,” he said.
“Before privatisation, many projections were made, like metering and all of that were done with good and sincere intentions, but again there is the social component to it. There were things we did not do well, and we didn’t know about some of the labour issues,” he explained.
“Today we are a service delivery company unlike NEPA that was an engineering company. As at 2013 the exchange rate was about N216 per dollar, 20 months later things have changed and today we are faced with recession,” he added.
Youdeowei said it would be a disservice to continue to defend what is not realisable.
Speaking further on metering, he said the company had set out to meter all trading points from the Feeder to distribution transformers and down to consumers.
According to him, the idea is to determine the power supplied to a particular area and then bill customers along such consideration.
“We have problem of FOREX but we are still ordering meter but the pace is slow, single phase meter landing cost is about N100,000 and maximum return is 10 percent and this takes about 7 years to recover cost of a meter,” he said.
Speaking in the same way, the company’s general manager in charge of commercial, Folake Soetan defended the company’s billing system, explaining that the estimated billing is not illegal, stressing that the firm has come up with an acceptable billing formula for non-metered customers.
According to Soetan, from energy supplied to the distribution transformer, the company calculates the recharging limit of metered customers within the period and bill unmetered customers about 30 per cent of such consumption.
She said the formula had been submitted to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
In a related development, the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) of the company, Mr Aigbe Olotu has said the company has invested N11 billion in network expansion projects within the last three years.
Olotu said that funding was one of the main challenges due to the fact that gas is priced based on international gas pricing denominated in dollars.
He also stated that the military and government agencies including government ministries, departments and agencies owe the company over N6 billion unpaid electricity bill to date.