BEDC to roll out 39,000 meters, pledges improved services
Benin Electricity Distribution Plc (BEDC), said it would roll out 39,000 meters in the first half of 2017, in compliance with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) directive to distribution companies (discos) on massive metering of customers.
This initiative followed the conclusion of the Disco’s first quarter customer forums across its coverage states of Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti with a pledge by the management to improve service delivery, according to a statement from BEDC.
With this roll out, electricity consumers in these states can heave a sigh of relief, as they can now get value for their money. This is because Discos have often been accused of ripping off their customers through crazy estimated billings that have no relationship with actual electricity consumption. To this end, most customers have refused to pay the bills, preferring instead, to either remain in darkness or provide their own power through generators.
The meter roll-out was announced at each of the customer forums held in Benin, Warri, Akure and Ado-Ekiti, and across the BEDC franchise areas with a view to ensuring that power generated and distributed to customers were utilised in a most efficient manner. This is to avert illegal consumption of electricity so that it will be made available to paying customers.
Head of Metering, BEDC, Meshach Okhumeode, said the meter installation will be preceded by enumeration of customers on feeders servicing the earmarked locations, to reduce power theft through bypass and illegal connections.
He added that the meters will be mounted on the poles instead of residential premises, saying this will engender collective monitoring by residents within a neighbourhood and the service provider.
He also affirmed BEDC’s readiness to ensure total metering of its customers within the next five years, urging customers to be patient, as the metering will be done in batches.
In his opening remarks, Head, Key Clients Services Group, Abel Enechaizam, said the forum was designed to dialogue with BEDC customers on ways to serve them better, adding that issues bordering on operations and services and customers’ expectations were being resolved.
He identified some critical issues affecting BEDC’s ability to give customers the expected service delivery, which include non-payment of bills, low power generation, high energy theft, illegal connections and funding constraints occasioned by capital expenditure (CAPEX) limit and foreign exchange factor.
Addressing customers in Benin, the Chief State Head, Edo, Fidelis Obishai, assured them of BEDC’s readiness to improve service delivery especially in the area of power supply, but warned against the habit of vandalising the company’s properties at the slightest anger.
Obishai, who pointed out that the task of providing power supply to customers on regular basis was being affected by the challenge of system collapse and low generation of power to the grid, said this was invariably slowing down BEDC’s ability to meet customer expectations.
In Warri, the Chief State Head, Delta, Ernest Edgar, pledged that despite the challenges, BEDC will ensure that customers got the needed service delivery, but warned them to avoid all forms of illegal deals with some corrupt staff. He equally decried the high rate of theft of BEDC equipment and vandalism.Edgar urged customers to pay all outstanding debts owed BEDC; saying that it was the only way the company can work effectively to satisfy their needs.
In Ondo and Ekiti states, the Chief States’ Head, Kunbi Labiyi, reiterated the Disco’s commitment to serve customers better despite the challenges, noting that the metering roll-out is to gradually reduce the incidence of estimated billing.
Reiterating BEDC’s determination to provide better service delivery, Labiyi noted that 3,000 megawatts current generation output is grossly inadequate to satisfy 160million Nigerians, adding that BEDC gets only nine per cent as allocation, which it distributes to about 800,000 customers in the four states.