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Prepaid meters: Premium customers should be prioritised, NERC tells DisCos

Prepaid meters: Premium customers should be prioritised, NERC tells DisCos
April 09
11:46 2024

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has asked power distribution companies (DisCos) to prioritise customers on Band A for metering.

Musiliu Oseni, NERC’s vice-chairman, spoke on Monday during a meeting with civil society  (CSOs) and community-based organisations in Abuja.

Oseni said about 20 percent of Band A customers are unmetered, urging DisCos to meter all customers on the premium band feeders.

“On metering, we still have about 15 to 20 percent of the Band A customers that are not metered and that has to be a priority of the DisCos,” he said.

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Oseni said there are several initiatives put in place by the federal government and the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) to ensure the metering of the Band A customers.

He said efforts are being made to meter customers starting from those affected by the recent electricity tariff hike.

On April 3, the commission approved an increase in tariff for customers under the Band A classification.

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The NERC had said customers under the classification will now pay N225 per kilowatt (kW) from April 3 — up from N66.

According to NERC, Band A customers are those who enjoy 20 hours of average electricity supply.

‘ALL CUSTOMERS SHOULD BE METERED’

Following the tariff review, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) asked NERC to ensure the metering of all customers to avoid exploitation.

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Speaking on in a statement on Monday, Adamu Abdullahi, FCCPC’s acting executive vice-chairman, said metering customers on other bands before upgrading them to a higher tariff would serve as “an incentive for DisCos”.

Abdullahi said many consumers have expressed fear that the likelihood of arbitrary estimated billing for unmetered Band A customers could lead to consumer abuse and dissatisfaction, hence the need to meter all unmetered customers in all bands.

“DisCos’ repeated failure to meet the minimum power supply hours for respective tariff bands and their failure over time to compensate consumers for service downtime have made consumer grievances worse,” he said.

“To address these concerns and promote consumer welfare under the current service reflective tariff regime, FCCPC encourages NERC to mandate DisCos to meter all unmetered Band A customers within 60 days, thus ensuring accurate billing and protecting consumers from arbitrary estimations.

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“In addition, we urge NERC to vigorously enforce the cap on estimated bills and ensure compliance with the required daily supply for respective tariff bands (A to E), thereby promoting fairness in billing practices.”

Abdullahi said the commission’s view is that “unless a consumer on Band B, C, D, or E is metered, the DisCo should not be allowed to migrate such a consumer to a higher tariff band to avoid any form of exploitation. This will also serve as an incentive for DisCos to meter consumers”.

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