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Hope, anxiety grip consumers as govt moves to deregulate meter acquisition

The Minister of Power, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has recently announced plans to liberalise the acquisition of meters by customers for the 11 electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) to check complaints of overbilling.

The announcement, though greeted with ovation from some quarters, caused other customer groups and operators of power assets to call for a fair and transparent move in the intervention process planned by government.

At the monthly power sector meeting held in Kano on August 14, 2017, Fashola said government in the past, under the defunct PHCN, attempted to intervene in metering customers by introducing the Credited Advanced Payment for Metering Initiative (CAPMI).

He said CAPMI was wound up in 2016 “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 or at all.”

He announced the new plan of the DisCos reaching agreement with their customers and supplying meters. “Some DisCos have come back to say that their customers still want to pay for meters and they can reach agreement with them on how to pay for it,” Fashola disclosed.

Although he said government was supporting that, for customers to start paying for meters, the minister said the Discos have the obligation to meter customers in their utilities.

He said the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) will make regulations that will guide meter service providers, meter and retail franchise operators, community aggregation services for electricity sale and meter provision and low cost meter supply.

Once this is done, Fashola said the terms of licensing and the roll out of the metering programme will begin.

He noted that this liberalisation of meters is different from CAPMI because, “it is not a government initiative which CAPMI was. However, through NERC, government would monitor and regulate to ensure that DisCos do not use this as an excuse to abdicate their responsibility to provide meters.”

Simon Ugwu

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