Report Disco that forces you to pay for transformers, cables, NERC tells customers

• Says payment of outstanding bill not prerequisite for acquiring meter

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has asked customers to report any electricity Distribution Company(DisCo) that forces them to invest in the replacement of distribution infrastructure such as transformers, cables, as a condition for the restoration of electricity supply.

It also warned DisCos against the removal of meters from customers’ premises purportedly on the regulator’s directive that all meters that have been in use for more than 10 years should be phased out.

The Commission in a statement issued by its General Manager (GM) Public Affairs, Usman Abba Arabi, explained that it had earlier issued a “Regulation for Investment in Electricity Networks” where customers desirous of intervening in the restoration of power supply, may invest in the provision of materials and installation.

It maintained that in the case of such agreement, there must be a “project agreement” between the customers and distribution company in which the costs and the mechanism for recovery of the investment are mutually agreed between the parties.

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“In this regard, customers are hereby requested to report any electricity distribution company that has engaged in the practice of forcing customers to supply materials and/or installation as a precondition for providing or restoring electricity supply,” it added.

Also, it condemned the practice of some DisCos embarking on the removal of meters from customer premises, stating that has issued no such directive to the licensees.

He stated that no metered customers should be transferred to “estimated billing” on the premise that meters in use for more than 10 years are dysfunctional.

To this end, it said: “All licenses must henceforth adhere to the PART III, SECTION 3.5.2 of the Metering Code which states that; if a metering system fault occurs, the Distributor shall provide urgent metering services to repair or replace the metering system as soon as it is practicable and in any event within two working days of the Distributor discovering that the fault exists.

“In this regard, customers are hereby requested to report any electricity distribution company that has continued with the decommissioning of meters without immediate replacement.”

In another development, the Commission lamented the practice of some DisCos, insisting on the payment of all outstanding electricity debts as a precondition for the acquisition of electricity meters under the Meter Asset Provider Regulation.

“The Commission is committed to expediting a closure of the metering gap in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry thus eliminating the current unwarranted practice of “estimated billing,” it said.

However, it said that: “In response to customer complaints about the issuance of estimated electricity bills and pending the installation of the estimated over 5m units of meters, the Commission shall soon prescribe a cap representing the maximum amount that a DisCo may charge an unmetered customer.

“In pursuit of realising the main objective of the Meter Asset Provider Regulations, the Commission hereby requests customers denied the opportunity of acquiring meters under the new regulatory framework on account of outstanding estimated bills should contact the Commission by sending an email with full details of the circumstances,” it said.

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