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Confusion as FG hikes cost of meters despite free mass metering project

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THE Federal Government on Friday announced an increase in the cost of both single-phase and three-phase electricity meters effective from November 15, 2021.

Analysts say the development breeds confusion following government’s directive that meter is free in line with its ongoing mass metering project.

The increment was disclosed in a circular dated November 11, 2021.

The circular issued by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) was signed by its chairman Sanusi Garba and addressed to managing directors, all electricity distribution companies and meter asset providers.

The circular with reference number NERC/REG/MAP/GEN/751/2 was entitled ‘Review of the unit price of end-use meters under the Meter Asset Provider and National Mass Metering Regulations’.

In the document, the regulator raised the price of a single-phase meter from the current cost of N44,896.17 to a revised price of N58,661.69.

It also increased the price of a three-phase meter from the current cost of N82,855.19 to a revised rate of N109,684.36.

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The Meter Asset Provider policy came into force in 2018 as an interventionist programme to allow third parties close the metering gap for electricity consumers.

The programme has been overtaken by the Federal Government’s mass metering programme which seeks to provide meters free for unmetered electricity consumers and enhance a credible electricity market.

A former Chairman of the NERC Sam Amadi told The ICIR that the increment could be traced to technical and commercial concerns.

But he noted that confusion is trailing the increment due to the ongoing free mass metering project.

“The increment is partly as a result of technical and commercial issues, but confusion still trails management of some key sectoral issues in the sector.”

Amadi stressed that the mass metering policy is not well coordinated and accused the distribution companies of focusing on revenue generation instead of closing the metering gap.

“The mass metering programme is not well coordinated. Discos are using it for revenue management instead of effective meter delivery.

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“Discos are focusing on increasing revenue rather than efficient meter delivery,” Amadi said.

He urged the government to think up different strategies that would enable it address myriads of problems confronting the sector.

It would be noted that despite privatisation in November 2013, Nigeria’s power sector has been bedevilled with several problems, a situation that has led to various forms of government intervention and subsidy in the sector.

For instance, the government has embarked on a mass metering programme for power consumers with facility support from the World Bank to the tune of $750 million.

Experts in the power sector say the situation is pushing the government into avoidable debt.

“The government is starved of resources and yet intervening in numerous aspects like mass metering with borrowed facility from the World Bank. This does not speak well of a sector privatised for eight years running,” President Nigerian Consumer Protection Network Kunle Kola Olubiyo told THE ICIR.

He stressed that if the government continues its interventions in the sector without a proper exit strategy, the essence of the power sector  privatisation would be defeated.

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Olubiyo suggested that the Discos should dilute their stakes in the capital market so that Nigerians could invest in them to attract more funding for its projects and power sector investments.

Also, a commissioner in NERC Frank Okafor told THE ICIR that Nigeria needs to close about eight million metering gap which he said continues to grow as housing infrastructure keeps expanding.

Okafor however noted that the government is working towards expanding its options in closing the metering gap in order to ensure a credible electricity sector.

Author profile

Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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1 COMMENT

  1. NERC have not live up to expectations. The officials have been in constant romans with Distribution Companies.
    A vast majority of customer have not been metred but pay exorbitantly because distribution companies find such arrangement most comfortable.
    Example is my town, Ubulu-uku, in Aniocha South LGA. Each building pay the sum of Three Thousand Naira (N3,000) monthly. By the arrangement, electricity supply is supposed to comes on between 7pm-11pm. Despite the fact that this arrangement fail most of the days with a particular month, the N3,000 is sacrosanct else the compound will be cut off. Benin Electricity Company also expect the final consumers to provide poles and pay for repairs of broken down transformer. Anybody, who cares can investigate.
    EDDC have stop the distribution of prepaid metres and only give out post-paid. Meanwhile, before post-paid metres are installed, on official request, crazy bills are mounted on innocent subscribers.
    Personnel of Nigeria Electricity Regulating Company (NERC) are fully aware of this evil by Distribution Companies but choose to stay aloof and profit from this short change.
    It is my candid and sincere opinion that NERC urgently needs to be overhauled in order to live up to expectations.

    Thank you,

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