Business Hilights
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If you wish, pay for your meters, Fashola changes discuss, group kicks

Fresh twist emerged on Tuesday, on the ongoing confusion bordering on whether or not consumers’ should for meters as the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola said government will not oppose the wishes of electricity consumers willing to pay for meters from their distribution companies if both had an understanding to do so.

This stemmed from his remarks at the 18th monthly power sector meeting, which was made available to our correspondent in Abuja yesterday, saying he has been under pressure to approve the U-Turn as Discos inform him of consumers’ readiness to pay.

But in a swift reaction, the Chairman, Network of Electricity Consumers Advocacy of Nigeria (NECAON), Mr. Tomi Akingbogun, said, “I think it is a technical statement by the minister, which might be difficult to implement because, for example, unless I am able to connect directly to the Transmission Company of Nigeria and have my electricity from them, bypassing the Disco, that’s the only time I can install my own meter”.

“You can’t just go to a Disco and say you have your own meter and they will accept that meter. I don’t know if the Discos would be willing to liaise with any investors interested in going into metering of customers.

Business Hilights can recall that early second quarter of last year, Fashola, had directed the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to rest its alternative metering scheme, known as Credited Advance Payment for Metering Initiative, which paved way for customers to pay for electricity meters.

According to the minister, “Please recall that government had in the past attempted to intervene in meter supply through CAPMI, which ultimately I decided we should wind down because of the distrust and disaffection it was creating between consumers and Discos with government caught in the middle with numerous petitions by customers who paid for meters that were not delivered within the approved time”.

“Some Discos have come back to say that their customers still want to pay for meters and they can reach agreements with them on how to pay for it. Government will not stand in the way of such an agreement. It is consistent with the intent of privatisation envisioned by the Electric Power Sector Reform Act or at least it does not violate the Act.”

“What I will reiterate is that the Discos have the obligation to meter customers because they are the ones who charge for electricity which must be measured. If the customers and the Discos reach an agreement between themselves, where the customer assumes the responsibility of the Disco of his own free will and NERC sanctions this agreement, then so be it.

The minister however made it clear that “The difference between this kind of agreement and CAPMI is that it is not a government initiative. However, through NERC, government will monitor and regulate to ensure that Discos do not use this as an excuse to abdicate their responsibility to provide meters.”

Already, government has concluded arrangements to speed up meter delivery vide N39bn syndicated loan to metering firms.