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Will Discos accept, connect meters sourced differently by customers’?

Though the lead regulatory agency in Nigeria’s power sector, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on Monday announced the taming of power distribution companies (Discos) from being sole suppliers’ of prepaid meters, there are indications that Discos may revert to rejection of meters brought forward by customers for connection.

This means that it is no more the sole responsibility of Discos to providing meters to electricity consumers anymore.

However, according to NERC, a new regulation, has now introduced another class of operators in the power sector called Meter Asset Providers (MAPs).

Some of the Discos who spoke to our correspondents across the regions of the nation, welcomed the new policy, but argued that they may have the need to scrutinize any meter presented by any customer before mounting and connection to avoid fake and substandard connections.

PRO of one of the Dsicos (name and company with held) told Business Hilights that “We are even happy that we are no more providing meters for customers because Dsicos had been shortchanged by the selling price and attached conditions for meter access. We pay more than we are allowed to sell it to customers after all”.

Explaining more on the operations of the new service provider, the Commissioner, Legal, Licensing and Compliance, NERC, Dafe Akpeneye, said MAPs would now take up the duty of providing meters to customers, among other functions.

In his presentation at the 25th Monthly Power Sector Meeting, Akpeneye averred that “The commission saw the non-availability of meters as a very serious concern and met with consumers, Discos, financiers and other stakeholders across the industry in order to solve the problem”.

“We all arrived at the same answer that we have to do something different. We can no longer leave this very important obligation to the distribution companies alone; other players have to come into this space. So, we went about creating the NERC Meter Asset Provider Regulation, 2018. What does this seek to do differently?

“In the past, we left it as a sole responsibility of the Discos in their performance agreement that they are to meter customers. It’s been over four years since privatisation and customers are still complaining. So, to solve this problem, we are creating a new class in the industry called Meter Asset Providers.”

“MAPs will be independent people who will be approved by NERC but contracted by the Discos to bridge the metering gap. In doing this, there will be various options available to customers.

The Commissioner added that “Electricity consumers will now have the option of self-financing. Those who don’t want this will be able to obtain meters from MAPs and there will be a metering service charge spread over a period of 10 years.”

He also revealed that with the new regulatory changes, the Commission is expecting over N200m worth of investments into the sector through meter production and this is another way of driving local content in the industry as there are new indigenous metering companies.

“MAPs do not only have the responsibility to provide meters, but they also have the responsibility to ensure that those meters are maintained and replaced within 48 hours if anything goes wrong with a meter. This regulation will not only address the issue of metering, but we estimate that it will attract an investment of over N200m in the next three years in the industry and will create jobs.

Akpeneye added further that “We’ve introduced local content requirement into the regulation and with its commencement, it is estimated that at least 30 per cent of all meters deployed must be procured from local manufacturers and assemblers. As the regulation progresses, the need to use local providers will be increased in line with the NERC local content regulation.”