NERC permits new operators to supply meters

Electricity Meter
Electricity Meter

A new law approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) now permits operators other than the distribution companies to supply meters to electricity consumers in the country.

Consequently, the electricity sector regulator said, a new class of operators in the power sector called Meter Asset Providers (MAPs) have been mandated to join in providing the service.

The NERC Commissioner for Legal, Licencing & Compliance, Dafe Akpeneye, said the MAPs would henceforth be responsible for supplying electricity meters to customers, among other functions.

Mr. Akpeneye who disclosed this at the 25th Monthly Power Sector Meeting in Abuja said the challenge of non-availability of meters for electricity consumers was a serious concern to NERC, consumers, distribution companies, financiers and other interest groups in the industry.

“We all arrived at the same answer that we have to do something different to solve the problem. We can no longer leave this very important obligation to the distribution companies alone. Other players have to come into this space. So, that was why we created the NERC Meter Asset Provider Regulation, 2018,” he said.

“In the past, NERC left metering of electricity consumers as the sole responsibility of the power distribution companies as included in their performance agreement.

“But, It’s been over four years since privatisation of the power sector and customers are still complaining about inadequate supply of meters. So, to solve this problem, we created a new class of operators in the industry called Meter Asset Providers,” Mr. Akpeneye said.

The MAPs, he explained, would not only be independent, but would be approved by the commission and contracted by the DISCOs to bridge the metering gap in the country.

In exercising this function, he said, electricity consumers would have various options open to them to meet their needs for meters.

Apart from self-financing, the commissioner said, consumers would be able to explore the option of obtaining their meters from MAPs under a payment plan that would allow a metering service charge spread over a 10 years period.

Mr. Akpeneye said the new regulation would attract over N200million worth of fresh investments into the power sector through meter production, as the local content requirement was captured under the new law.

“The MAPs do not only have the responsibility to provide meters, they also have the responsibility to ensure those meters are maintained and replaced within 48 hours if anything goes wrong with them”, he said.

“This regulation will not only address the issue of metering to consumers, but estimates are that it would attract an investment of over N200 million in the next three years in the industry as well as create jobs.

He said NERC had introduced local content requirement into the regulation, adding that with the commencement of the new arrangement, the commission estimated at least 30 per cent of all meters deployed would be procured from local manufacturers and assemblers.

As the regulation progresses, Mr. Akpeneye said the need to use local providers would be increased in line with the NERC local content regulation.

On the regulation, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, explained that it took the Meter Asset Provider Regulation, 2018 over 14 years before it could be actualised because government had to settle a meter contract problem over the period.

The minister said the next thing to do was to implement the regulation requiring the cooperation of all stakeholders in the value chain.

“Government decided to pursue an out-of-court settlement on a meter contract awarded since 2003, which was held up in court until 2017,” he explained.

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Bassey Udo is PREMIUM TIMES’ Business & Economy Editor. He has covered finance, energy, oil, gas & extractive industries for over a decade. He is a winner of the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation (Wealth of Nations) Award for Business Reporting. Bassey is an alumnus of the U.S. International Visitors Leadership Programme. Twitter: @ba_udo

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