NERC: Why Some Nigerians Don’t Pay Electricity Bills

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The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has given reasons why some Nigerians don’t pay the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) for power supplied to them.

The NERC, in its latest quarterly review of the sector’s activities for the second quarter of 2019, stated that the Discos have largely failed to provide meters to their customers which would have enabled them to account for their electricity consumption patterns.

“The metering gap for end-use customers is still a key challenge in the industry. The records of the commission indicate that, of the 8,881,443 registered electricity customers, only 3,811,729 (42.92 per cent) have been metered as at the end of the second quarter of 2019.

“Thus, 57.08 per cent of registered customers are still on estimated billing which has contributed to customer apathy towards payment for electricity,” said the NERC in the quarterly report.

It explained that in comparison to the first quarter report of activities in the sector, the number of registered and metered customers in the networks however increased by 0.45 per cent and 0.46 per cent respectively.

According to the regulator, the increase in registered customer population was due to an on-going customer enumeration exercise by Discos through which illegal consumers of electricity have been brought into their electricity billing platforms.

Similarly, it explained the increase in metered customers was largely attributed to the gradual roll-out of meters under the Meter Assets Provider (MAP) scheme, but added that its review showed that only Abuja, Benin and Port Harcourt Discos had metered more than 50 per cent of their registered customers as at the end of June 2019.

It also stated that it continued its monitoring of Discos’ implementation of and compliance to the provisions of the MAP Regulations in order to fast-track meter roll-out with the target of closing the metering gap in the sector within three years.

In its review of customer complaints statistics in the sector, the NERC disclosed that most of the complaints lodged by consumers against their Discos were about metering, estimated billing and service interruption which it added remained significant areas of concerns for them.

“Metering and billing accounted for 52.80 per cent, that is 77,063 of the total complaints in the second quarter of 2019.
“In an effort to ensure improved customer service delivery, the commission continued to monitor and audit the complaint handling and resolution process by Discos.

“Moreover, the commission, on a continuous basis, monitors the operation and efficacy of its Forum Offices which were set up to adjudicate on consumers’ complaints not adequately resolved to the customers’ satisfaction by the responsible Discos,” it stated.

On how these impacted the financials of the market, the NERC stated that N186.08 billion worth of electricity was billed to consumers but N121.32 billion was collected by the Discos within the quarter.

It said: “The commercial viability and financial liquidity of the industry continued to be a major challenge with slight improvement in the second quarter of 2019. During the quarter under review, the total billing to electricity consumers by the 11 Discos rose to N186.08 billion with a total collection of N121.32 billion.”

The regulator said this represented 80.18 per cent and 69.10 per cent billing and collection efficiency respectively, adding that, “the level of collection efficiency during the quarter under review indicates that as much as N3.09 out of every N10 worth of energy sold during the second quarter of 2019 still remained uncollected as and when due.”