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DisCos justify payment for meters despite FG’s ‘free meters’

By Kingsley Jeremiah, Abuja
08 March 2022   |   3:08 am
The 11 electricity distribution companies yesterday, in Abuja, insisted that payment for meters by end-users remains justified despite the mass-metering programme of the government

[FILES] Power company staff installing Prepaid meter

The 11 electricity distribution companies yesterday, in Abuja, insisted that payment for meters by end-users remains justified despite the mass-metering programme of the government, which is premised on free meters.

The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), the umbrella body of the utility companies said that not all approved metering schemes, currently active in the country, come at no immediate expense to customers.

ANED’s Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Sunny Oduntan, while making clarifications to the media on the different channels through which customers can obtain electricity meters, said: “Under the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC)’s Meter Asset Provider and National Mass Metering Regulations there are two metering programmes—National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) and the Meter Asset Provider (MAP).

“The NMMP is a policy intervention by the federal government, with funding from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). This programme commenced in 2021 and the objective of the programme is to expeditiously close the electricity metering gap.

“These meters are provided free of charge to customers and as loans to the electricity distribution companies (DisCos). The first phase of NMMP covered the delivery and installation of a million meters and concluded in October 2021. In the second phase, four million more meters will be installed.”

He noted that the second route to obtaining a meter, the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) scheme, which was approved in 2018, comes at a cost.

According to him, the avenue is available to customers who are unwilling to wait for the availability of meters under the NMMP.

“Such customers can pay for a meter under the scheme. The amount paid by the customer will be amortised and refunded over a 36-month period via energy credits,” Oduntan explained.

The approaches, according to him, were aimed at closing the metering gap in the next one or two years, so that estimated billing would be reduced to a minimum.

“However, of note is that under the second programme with the advantage of expedited delivery and installation, the customer has to first pay for the meter before being refunded. Ultimately, the meter is free to the customer, via the energy credits,” Oduntan said.

He noted that while the implementation of Phase zero of the NMMP has been concluded by all the DisCos, while waiting for the commencement of Phase one, the DisCos are finalising the documentation and disbursement requirements of the funding for Phase one with an expected kick-off soonest.

“It is important to clarify that the DisCos are operating within the regulatory guidelines established by their regulator, NERC, relative to meeting customer metering requirements,” he added.