Discos must Meter Consumers, FG Insists

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    Chineme Okafor in Abuja

    About 26 industrial customers have elected to sign up to be supplied power directly from power generation companies (Gencos) instead of from the distribution companies (Discos) under the eligible consumers’ scheme approved by the federal government in 2017, the government said yesterday in Minna, Niger State. The eligible customers regime seeks to enable large users of electricity in Nigeria’s power sector get adequate supplies directly from power Gencos. The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, disclosed that this number of industrialists were ready to engage the scheme at the August 2018 edition of the monthly power sector operators meeting. He also stated that five industrial consumers were already benefiting from the scheme.

    “The eligible customer policy was introduced on May 15, 2017, and the regulations to govern it were issued by NERC on November 1, 2017. The purpose was amongst others to improve the distribution side and facilitate better power supply to consumers who consume up to two megawatts and above. From reports reaching me, five industrial customers are now benefiting from the policy. And they are taking their power directly from the Gencos,” said Fashola. He further said, “We also have a list of 26 industrial customers who are seeking to benefit from the scheme,” adding that Mainstream Energy, which operates the Kainji and Jebba hydro-power plants had reported to him that it collected 100 per cent of the invoice it issued to its eligible customers in the last two months.

    To get the Discos to support the eligible customers’ scheme, Fashola said he had asked the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), to work out and implement competition transition charges as provided by law to safeguard them from any losses.
    He also indicated that the N701 billion payment assurance guarantee, which the government approved for the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) has ensured the Gencos now get up to 80 per cent of their monthly invoices as against his claims they got only 20 per cent before now.

    “Since its implementation in 2017, recovery of payments by Gencos has increased from 20 per cent to 80 per cent, and the power supply capacity has improved from 4,000 to 7,000 megawatts, and there is an appetite now for other players to participate in the generation side of the business,” Fashola noted. Speaking again on the challenges of the sector, the minister insisted the Discos still had most of the sector’s challenges. He added that even with the introduction of the Meter Assets Providers (MAP) by the NERC, the Discos were still obligated to supply meters to their customers.

    He said, “Those who know and who genuinely desire to solve problems in this industry do not need to be told that the most pressing challenge of the sector today lies at the distribution end. “Among the challenges at this sector of the value chain, and there are problems in gas, generation and transmission, the most urgent are distribution of available energy to consumers, and there is an unused energy in the region of 2,000 megawatts in this category. The other, of course, is the supply of meters to consumers. These two issues of power distribution and supply of meters rank highest in the feedback from the stakeholders in the industry.”

    On metering, he said the MAP as part of its objectives was introduced to address meter supply gaps, provide relief to the Discos of the financial burden of supplying meters, and allow entrepreneurs to get involved in the business of meter supply through diversified sources, but that it did not end the Discos’ obligations to provide meter to their customers.