Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has said that it is tightening the noose on Meter Service Providers (MSPs) to curb billing errors and the incessant impact of erratic installations on power consumers.
The regulatory agency said that some electricity consumers were still recording billing errors and safety hazards that affect human life and property despite all efforts to ensure that the highest standards of safety are adhered to.
NERC told the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry that the guidelines for the certification of metering service providers, which were released before now, was to ensure that only qualified persons are certified to perform the functions.
It said henceforth only duly certified persons from the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) would now be allowed to carry out such operations.
The guidelines issued by NERC and tagged: “Approval of curriculum/ certification of energy meter installers”, noted that sections 32 and 96 (1) and (2) of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA), 2005 gives the commission the powers to, amongst others, develop codes, standards, regulations and guidelines to be able to effectively carry out its mandate.
“The guideline was developed to ensure that only qualified persons are certified to perform the functions required of Metering Service Providers in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
“Despite the existence of the guidelines, faulty metering installations still persist, which results in billing errors as well as safety hazards with adverse effects on human life and property,” it said.
The commission added that in consideration of the above, NAPTIN’s curriculum for training meter installers now remains the minimum benchmark for their training and retraining.
It said all prospective applicants as meter installers in the electricity supply chain should provide evidence of training from NAPTIN or any other NERC approved training institution whose curriculum on meter installation is not below the NAPTIN’s benchmark.
The certificate, it said, was mandatory for the issuance of NERC professional installer certificate for new (intending) applications, effective from August 1, 2020.
“It is illegal for anyone to install meter and metering equipment in the NESI without the appropriate NERC certificate,” the agency added.
On safety in the industry, NERC said in spite of arrays of technical operating codes and regulations that extensively outline safety requirements for the safeguarding of persons and equipment, cases of accidents were increasing.
“During planning, construction, installation, operation, maintenance, repairs and utilisation of electricity, the spate of electrical accidents in the sector has been disappointingly on a progressive trend year after year,” it said.
To reverse the trend, NERC stated that all electricity work safety practitioners and operational staff in NESI must provide evidence of NAPTIN or any other NERC approved training and certification.
It added that all those concerned should continuously engage in retraining by NAPTIN or any other NERC approved training institution whose curriculum on electricity work safety is not below the NAPTIN’s benchmark.
The guidelines also stipulate that NERC will issue the certificate to meter manufacturers, vendors and installers, valid for two years, while for importers the validity lasts only one year.