President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

Nigeria halts estimated billing, directs mass metering of electricity consumers

*Federal Government decries estimated billing system for electricity consumption, says NERC

*Urges operators, consumers to disregard any reports of arbitrary tariff increase

*NECA appeals to government to strategically address challenges in power sector

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In a move to halt the hitherto controversial estimated and arbitrary billing regime for electricity consumers, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered operators in the power sector to do mass metering of unmetered consumers nationwide.

ConsumerConnect reports the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) announced this information approved by Prof. John Momoh, Chairman of NERC, Wednesday, August 26 in a tweet approved by via its official Twitter account.

The NERC stated that it had not approved any increase in power tariffs, as reported in some quarters.

According to the regulator, “the President has directed that there should be a nationwide mass-metering programme in an effort by the Federal Government to put a stop to estimated and arbitrary billing for electricity.

“He has also approved a waiver of the import levy on meters, so that those that do not have meters can be supplied as early as possible at reasonable costs.”

As regards tariffs, the NERC said: “The general public and all stakeholders in the power sector are by this statement urged to disregard any reports of an arbitrary tariff increase affecting Nigerians.”

Electricity Prepayment Meters

The Commission further stated that tariff reviews going forward would only follow service-based principles.

Under these service-based principles, Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) would only be able to review tariff rates for consumers when they consult with them, and are committed to increasing the number of hours of supply per day and quality of service (QoS).

“In all cases, poor and vulnerable Nigerians will not experience any increase.

“In line with these expectations, DisCos are directed to engage with their customers on a Service Based Tariff structure,” stated NERC.

According to the regulator, under the Service-Based Tariff Structure, DisCos could only review tariffs for consumers under the condition that consumers are consulted and communicated a guaranteed level of electricity service by the operators, based on hours of supply.

Consumers would also be metered, and no estimated billing based on the strict enforcement of the capping regulation, said the Commission.

It added: “This means that unmetered customers will not experience any cost increase beyond what is chargeable to metered customers in the same area.

“Even under the above conditions, there will be no change in tariff for the most vulnerable as tariffs for those consuming 50KW or less remain frozen.”

NERC added that consumers receiving less than 12 hours of supply would also not experience any change in tariffs in line with the Service-Based Tariff Structure.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has urged the Federal Government to strategically address the challenges in the power sector.

Dr. Timothy Olawale, Director-General of NECA, in a statement made the appeal Wednesday in Lagos.

Olawale said that resolving the issues in the power sector would be a major step toward reviving the economy and returning it to the path of steady growth.

The NECA Director-General said: “While NECA commends government for the renewed vigour in solving the electricity crisis, we urge that it should continue to live up to its obligations as stipulated in the terms of the privatisation.

“We also urge the distribution companies to expedite action in distributing pre-paid metres to all consumers.”

While it is desirable that cost-reflective tariff was instituted, it is imperative that the infrastructural challenge in the sector is also addressed, said Dr. Olawale.

He stated that a major challenge for organised businesses and consumers generally is the incidence of estimated billing, which he noted has pitted the DisCos against consumers in the country.

“Electricity consumers, generally, will not challenge the payment of a cost-reflective tariff, if electricity is provided.

“It is paramount that pre-paid meters are installed for all consumers to increase the confidence of Nigerians, rather than the current controversial estimated billing,” he stressed.

He, however, called for a staggered approach to cost and service reflective tariffs in the power sector of the country’s economy.

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