Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) on Tuesday got an April 30 deadline to meter certain categories of consumers.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), which gave the order, said such customers will no longer pay estimated bills at the expiration of the deadline.
Besides, the regulator capped estimated billing of all categories of customers by the DisCos across the country.
In its new order – Order no/NERC/197/2020 – issued yesterday, the regulator said the new measures became necessary as a result of complaints by customers concerning unrealistic billing of unmetered customers.
NERC Chairman Prof. James Momoh and the Commissioner, Legal, Licencing & Compliance, Dafe Akpeneye, said the new Order repealed the 2012 estimated billing regulation.
They said: “On the transitional capping of estimated bills issued to unmetered customers by distribution licensees in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), the new Order repeals NERC Methodology for Estimated Billing Regulations of 2012, and takes effect from February 20, 2020.”
The Commission said it acted on its mandate as provided by section 32 (10) (a) of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2004 (EPSRA) and section 96 of EPSRA. According to the Order, DisCos are required to meter customers in accordance with requisite standard of performance.
It noted that the essence of acquisition of majority shares from the government by the investors was to meter many unmetered customers but unfortunately, there has been little change in the situation as the deployment of meters by DisCos has been outpaced by the growth in customer numbers.
NERC said the data it got from the customer enumeration showed that customer population had grown from five million in 2012 to over 10 million as at end of December, last year, with about 52 per cent of the population invoiced on the basis of estimated billing.
In view of the above, a standard methodology of estimated billing became imperative within this transitional period required to close the metering gap to protect customers from beingarbitrarily billed against their actual consumption.
According to NERC Order, customers to be billed on estimation, include those with faulty meters, those whose meters cannot be read and existing customers without meters.
It added that unrealistic billing of unmetered customers accounted for 65 per cent of complaints at DisCos’ customer centres, forum offices and appeals to the Commission.
Following the new Order, NERC said the estimated Billing Methodology Regulation has been repealed and shall cease to have effect as a basis for computing the consumption of unmetered customers.
It said: “DisCos shall ensure that all customers on tariff Class A1 are properly identified and metered by April 30, 2020. R2 single phase customers now have energy cap of 78kwhr per month and a tariff of N24 kwhr.
The maximum such a customer will be billed is N1, 872 per month. This billing is capped during the transitional period till they are metered but the Commission noted that actual amount shall vary in the event of any tariff review affecting such customer class.
“Residents that consume less than 50kwh will be billed at N4 per kwhr and a maximum of N200 monthly.”