By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
To ensure accurate metering and put in place mechanism to safeguard the rights of electricity consumers in Ekiti State, the Benin Electricity Distribution Company(BEDC) will roll out a total of 67,452 meters to consumers in the state.
The company said metering all consumers will encourage willingness to pay the monthly bills and reduce the burden of huge debts being owed by consumers through estimated billings.
The BEDC Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Funke Osibodu, represented by the Executive Director, Commercial, Dr. Abu Ejoor, said this in Ado Ekiti on Monday during the official launch of the mapping and enumeration exercises leading to the registration of consumers to have access to meters.
For the scheme to be successful, Osibodu urged the government to implement relevant laws to stop cases of vandalism, advising that mobile courts can be set up to try some of the criminals perpetrating the nefarious act.
She said the mapping and enumeration initiatives were in line with the directive of the National Electricity Regulation Commission NERC) to encourage development of independent and competitive meter services, eliminate estimated billings, attract private investments, close the metering gap and ensure revenue assurance in the Nigeria electricity supply industry.
Osibodu said power will be restored in Gbonyin and Ekiti East Local Government Areas of the state that have been in darkness for over five years after the scheme, adding that the power outage in the councils was caused by the rejection of bulk billings by consumers in the affected areas.
“The customers’ premises will be cleared whether you want a single or double phases before you are metered. Metering will start from Ado Ekiti and move to other local governments. We warn that customers should not pay cash to enumerators or mappers, they should pay to our designated banks.
“An average of 13,542 megawatts is supplied to Ekiti on monthly basis and 14 per cent of the power generated is lost due to poor network facilities and technical losses caused by non payment of bills and theft.
“We want our customers to cooperate with our officers as they move around to capture them in the two exercises, because the enumeration process will help in resolving almost 60 per cent of the complaints from customers,” she said.
Osibodu lamented that the greatest challenges of electricity supply in Ekiti have always been the transmission bottlenecks, vandalism, massive energy theft, high community unrest and huge debts owed on bills.
“We have been able to correct some of these challenges through rehabilitation of some of the damaged facilities like Ikogosi/Erinjiyan/Ipole Iloro on Aramoko 33KV, commissioning of Ado Ekiti 2.5MVA 33/11KV injection substations to increase power supply from six to 12 hours.
The BEDC official in charge of Ekiti, Mrs Kunbi Labiyi, said the company has been trying to improve electricity supply despite the administrative and technical hitches it suffers, adding that some communities have been energised to boost the economy and diversify the economy from the civil service structure.
According to Labiyi, the BEDC is also tapping into the off grid electricity generation options in partnership with the state government for improved electricity supply and robust economy.
On the Ekiti communities that have been in darkness for years, she said: “They found themselves in this condition because they rejected prepaid meters. They said they preferred individual billings, which was not possible, because there was no way we could know what they were consuming.
“We are sure that their issues will be resolved after this enumeration,” she said.