Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) On Tuesday disclosed that its new electricity metering regime called the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) regulation would kick off next week, precisely from April 3, 2018.
NERC said in a statement from its Head of Public Affairs, Dr. Usman Arabi, in Abuja that the MAP regulation would fast-tract its desire to close up the metering gap in Nigeriaâ€™s electricity market, as well as ensure that electricity consumers in the country only pay for what they actually consume.
It explained that it approved MAP to improve the supply, installation and maintenance of end-user meters by other parties other than the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos).
NERC equally informed that the Discos would be given about 120 days from the date of the MAP commencement to initiate a thorough procurement process to enagage the third party meter providers.
â€œThe regulation is expected to fast track a closure of the metering gap and encourages the development of independent and competitive meter services in the electricity industry.
â€œThe MAP Regulation (Regulation No. NERC/R/112), which would become effective on April 3, 2018, introduces meter asset providers as a new set of service providers in Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry.
â€œAs assets with a technically useful life of 10 to 15 years, the regulation provides for the third-party financing of meters, under a permit issued by the commission, and amortisation over a period of 10 years,â€ said NERC in the statement.
According to it, â€œThe electricity distribution companies, in line with their licensing terms and conditions, are obliged to achieve their metering targets as set by the commission under the new regulation. The contracting of MAPshall be through an open, transparent and competitive bid process thus ensuring that meters are provided at a least cost to electricity customers.â€
Clarifying that electricity meters are not deployed free of charge in the market by Discos, NERC said: â€œIt is to be noted that there are no free meters even under the current tariff regime as all customers, including those on estimated billing, currently pay for a return on the investment made by electricity distribution companies on meters in their networks.
â€œUnder the new MAP regulation, customer classes shall be amended to ensure that customers only pay for meters when a meter is physically installed in their premises. The electricity bill of customers provided with a meter under the new regulatory framework shall comprise of two parts â€“ energy charge and metering service charge,â€ it added.
NERC explained that the payment of metering service charge will be removed from the customer electricity bill upon the full amortisation of the meter asset over its useful life, and that all faulty meters are expected to be repaired or replaced free of charge within two working days, except in instances where it is established that the customer is responsible for the damaged meter.
Additionally, the regulatory commission said that the new MAP regulation would require the investors to acquire a minimum of 30 per cent of their metering volume from indigenous meter manufacturers.
â€œThis local content threshold may be adjusted by the commission from time to time in line with the verified manufacturing volume of local manufacturers.
â€œThe 11 electricity distribution companies are expected to, within 120 days from the effective date of the regulation, engage the services of MAPs towards the achievement of their three-year metering targets prescribed by the commission.
â€œThe performance of Meter Service Providers shall be governed by the provisions of the Meter Asset Regulation, technical codes of the electricity industry, and a meter services agreement/service level agreement signed with the distribution companies,â€ it explained.