The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) says it plans to install about 101,000 new meters before December 2021.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive of the company, Ernest Mupwaya, announced this on Tuesday at the launch of the National Mass Metering Programme in Abuja.
The programme bankrolled with the federal government’s 40 per cent shareholding was designed to help metre all electricity customers to check the incidence of crazy bills through estimated billing system.
Under the programme, electricity distribution companies are granted low interest shareholder loans that would enable them acquire enough metres to close the metering gap for good.
Over the years, Mr Mupwaya said, the AEDC embarked on various metering initiatives such as the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI) and Meter Asset providers (MAP) arrangement.
The new metering scheme kicks off today with an official order from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) mandating the electricity distribution companies (DisCos) to commence implementation of the.
The CAPMI introduced by NERC 2013 was part of the strategy to fast track the roll out of end-user electricity meters.
The scheme followed the slow pace of customer metering by the DISCOs, as well as the high level of complaints received from customers and dissatisfaction with the estimated billing practices in the system.
The scheme provided a platform for willing customers to pay the cost of the metre into a dedicated account jointly managed by the DISCO and metre vendor/Installer.
Once payment is made, the customers are expected to have their metre installed within 45 days by a NERC accredited meter vendor/Installer.
However, millions of customers who made the payment for metres under CAPMI remained unmetered without any satisfactory explanation by the DISCOs despite a directive that all customer premises must be metered no later than December 31, 2017.
On April 3, 2018, the CAPMI scheme was replaced with MAP, to allow the supply, installation and maintenance of end-user metres by other parties approved by NERC, to fast-track the closure of the metering gap and encourage the development of independent and competitive metre services in the electricity industry.
Under the MAP Regulation (Regulation No. NERC/R/112), a new set of service providers were introduced in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry.
The regulation allowed third-party financing of metres, under a permit issued by the NERC, and amortisation over a period of 10 years.
The DISCOs, in line with their licensing terms and conditions, are obliged to achieve their metering targets as set by NERC under the new regulation.
The AEDC boss said under the two programmes, over 300,000 customers were metered throughout its franchise areas.
He said the current metering arrangement under the National Free Mass Programme would facilitate improved services to boost activities that would impact both informal and formal sectors of the economy.
Under the programme, Mr Mupwaya said, AEDC would receive about 900,000 metres at a cost of about N23 billion. He said this will be sufficient to meter all customers, including replacement of defective metres in its operating area.
The over 101,000 meters to be installed free of charge to customers between now and December 2021, he said, would cost about N6 billion.
The rest of the metres, he said, would be installed 18 months after, through a comprehensive roll out programme, with simultaneous installations in Niger, Kogi and Nasarawa states in addition to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Enumerating the benefits of the metering of customers to the industry and the economy, Mr Mupwaya said apart from job creation through installation and inspections of metres after installations, there would be new jobs for metre manufacturing, logistics and supply chains associated with making meters available in Nigeria.
Besides, he said metering would improve the transparency in electricity transaction which would result in increased revenues that could be channeled into service improvement for consumers.
“Improved Services will support improved economic activities that will impact both informal and formal sectors. This will lead to an electricity industry transformation along with numerous spillover effects to the economy,” he said.
To reap these benefits, Mr Mupwaya urged electricity customers to accept the metres and resist any attempt by unscrupulous people who may approach them, with an offer to compromise the metres.
He reminded them that NERC has put in place penalties for those caught bypassing the metres such that the fines override the perceived benefit apart from damaging the good working relationship with the DisCos.