NERC frowns at electricity consumers that bye-pass prepaid meters

THE Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has frowned at electricity consumers that bye-pass prepaid meters in the country.

The commission also insisted that over four million power consumers are in need of prepaid meters across the country.

The Acting NERC Chairman, Dr Anthony Akah, stated during a chat with journalists in Abuja that although the commission had improved on metering system, the unavailability of meter manufacturing companies was hindering the maximum provision of meters to Nigerians.

“You have to order them, you have to configure them and protect the system. You have to deploy the technical expertise to ensure that these meters are not bye passed.

“But as we speak today, these meters are being bye passed by power consumers,” he said.

The number of unmetered consumers  contradicts earlier statement by Akah that out of a total of 6,159,775 customer accounts in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), only 3,206,599 customers, or 52 per cent, have so far been provided meters, leaving a gap of 2,953,176 unmetered customers.

According to him, “It is our responsibility to ensure compliance with these metering scheduled. We have our monitoring team following them and we want to make sure that if they don’t deploy the number of meters per month, per quarter or per year, we are going to sanction them severely for that.

“A customer that does not have electricity meter and who feels that they gave him a wrongful billing for that month and has the right to reject that bill and he should only pay the last bill he accepted.

“If they don’t meter you, the electricity distribution company has no right to estimate you or bill you. If you have given money to them and they have not given you meter after 60 days.”

Akah said that NERC would ensure refunds were made to customers wrongly billed as well as install the new prepaid meter.

He decried the situation where PHEDC workers were attacked by customers in the area, saying that such act was grossly unacceptable.

“They are doing their legitimate job and for them to be harassed or interrupted in the course of doing their legitimate jobs, you are not helping to solve the problems of electricity in the country,” he said.

While reiterating the company’s commitment to ensuring that electricity consumers are not exploited for electricity they did not consume, the commission’s boss explained that electricity Discos were purely a private-driven sector and not a government sector, adding that government was only providing a regulatory framework and enabling environment.

However, some residents in Lagos State have adopted “no prepaid meter, no billing” policy.

But the affected discos have also stated that they have been working with the communities with some level of understanding to ensure cordial relationship between the discos and the communities.