Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Customers of the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) who self-finance the installation of meters in their premises under the new Meter Assets Providers (MAP) regulation would not be able to transfer their meters when relocating, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has disclosed.
Metering has remained a huge challenge in Nigeria’s power sector with the NERC indicating that more than 50 per cent of Discos’ consumers were yet to have meters and are mostly charged through estimated billing.
It however initiated the MAP to quicken the process of meter deployment either by customers’ upfront self-financing the installation or amortization over a 10-year period.
But clarifying the operational model of the MAP, the commission explained that consumers who apply for and successfully acquire meters would not be able to migrate with the meters if they relocate.
It explained that: “All meters under the MAP framework are provided by the MAP on behalf of the distribution company operating in the franchise area, in accordance with the Meter Service Agreement contracted by both parties as contained in the MAP Regulations.
“Meters cannot be transferred by a customer once installed in a premises. Meters becomes part of the property. It is always advisable for landlords to procure the meters for their properties.”
NERC further stated: “Where a tenant with the agreement of the landlord procures a meter for a property, he/she should agree with the landlord on the mode of compensation since he cannot move the meter.”
The commission also clarified the practice of meter maintenance fee, often charged to the monthly bills of consumers and has remained contentious.
According to NERC, if a customer pays for a meter upfront, the payment of a monthly meter charge would not apply to such customer, however if not, and the meter acquisition was through amortisation, then the customer would pay monthly meter maintenance charges.
It explained that the metering service charge covers for the financing, procurement, installation, maintenance and replacement of meters over the technical life of the asset, adding that the charge appears as a line item on the customer’s monthly bill.
“The payment of a monthly metering charge applies to all customers metered under the amortisation option. Therefore, where a customer does not vend, i.e. purchase electricity in any given month during the tenure of the financing contract, the cumulative metering charge shall be deducted upon subsequent payment/purchase/vending of electricity,” it stated.
The NERC also noted that the procurement of a meter does not exclude indebted customers from clearing their proven outstanding electricity debts to the Discos.
It explained that: “All proven outstanding debts shall be paid by the customer in full or in installments over a period of time as agreed by the Disco and the customer in writing.
“Where an outstanding electricity debt as presented by the Disco is disputed by a customer, the customer has the right to a fair resolution of the disputed debt in line with applicable regulations and shall continue to pay for current energy use until the dispute is resolved.”