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Discos breaching applicable regulations in estimated billing procedure—NERC

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…Firms failed in meeting prepaid metering target in 5 years

Fresh report coming from monitoring exercises carried out by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on the way and manner used by electricity Distribution Companies (Discos) in the implementation of estimated billing have shown gross abuse of applicable regulations.

The Commission made it clear that the objectives of the consultative paper are to solicit comments from stakeholders on the proposal to set aside the existing regulations on estimated billing methodology, and possible options on the determination of the cap on monthly estimated bills issued to customers.

This was the part of the Executive Summary in a consultative paper on capping of estimated billing for unmetered electricity consumers.

NERC report concurred that the actual performance as at August 2018 indicates that about every six in 10 customers are unmetered and therefore, subjected to estimated billing.

The report averred that “The challenge of implementing the guidelines of the regulations has further been exacerbated by the widespread inadequate metering and distribution of transformers and feeders, thus placing a considerable burden on unmetered customers who ultimately are exposed to unacceptable level of estimated bills that were, in most circumstances, not objectively determined.”

On failure in meeting five-year metering target, the report revealed also that Discos have failed in this regard upon the extra miles went by the Commission in introducing Meter Access providers (MAPs) to rescue the situation.

NERC provisions are clear on metering; Regulation on Connection and Disconnection Procedures provides that consumers should only be connected to electricity supply upon the installation of an appropriate meter.

“The terms of the privatisation transaction for the Discos acknowledged the legacy metering gap, and therefore provided for the installation of a specified number of meters under the performance agreement over a period of five years.

NERC had prior to the privatisation of the Discos, issued a ‘Methodology for Estimated Billing’ Regulations in August 2012 for customers without meters, among others.

The Commission agreed that technical challenges in implementing estimated billing methodology include the non-integration of billing platforms for the purpose of determining the estimates of energy consumed by customers with prepaid meters and lack of relevant benchmarks and reporting on minimum supply and load-shedding data.

Part of the observations made by the report include that “It is the commission’s opinion that fast tracking the roll-out of meters for both energy accounting and appropriate billing of end-use customers is a key prerequisite for the recovery of Nigerian electricity supply industry.

“In consideration of the need to mitigate customer apathy about estimated billing during the transitional period of the provision of the meters under the MAP Regulations, the Commission hereby proposes to develop a regulation that puts a cap on estimated bills that electricity distribution companies may charge different classes of customers,” the NERC Consultative Paper noted.

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