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Friday, May 24, 2024

FG considers new options to deliver prepaid meters


THE Federal Government has started considering new options in delivering prepaid meters to 60 per cent of consumers still being exploited through estimated billing in Nigeria.

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In its ‘Consultation Paper on the Review of Meter Asset Provider’ obtained by Vanguard, yesterday, Sanusi Garba, Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, disclosed that the three options include: allowing the implementation of both the National Mass Metering Programme, NMMP and Meter Asset Provider, MAP metering frameworks to run concurrently, continuing with the current MAP framework with meters procured under the NMMP supplied only through MAPs (by being off-takers from the local manufacturers/assemblers); and winding down the MAP framework and allow the DisCos to procure meters directly from local manufacturers/assemblers (or as procured by the WB), and enter into new contracts for the installation and maintenance of such meters.

The Chairman, who noted that the options have their merits and demerits, stated: “Under the concurrent framework all customers are expected to pay their bills without any specific reference to metering charge. The metering component shall be embedded in the energy charge. The payment framework under the MAP-NMMP concurrent implementation option shall require all customers on the same tariff classification in a DisCo to pay a uniform energy tariff that includes a metering cost that would enable DisCos recover the cost of meter and other associated expenses for the repayment of the NMMP facility and the services provided by MAP.

“The repayment of the NMMP facility would be a second line charge against DisCos’ monthly collections in accordance with the term sheet for the financing. This option recognises the continued role of MAPs and the DisCos while strengthening the securitisation of payment to MAPs through a third line charge against the DisCos’ monthly revenues. This option maintains all other provisions of the Meter Service Agreement (“MSA”) except where both parties choose to make amendments to the agreements.

“The MAPs are thus required to make arrangements for the procurement, financing, delivery and installation of meters in line with approved deployment plans and the MSA. Customers who choose not to wait to receive meters based on the deployment schedule of the NMMP shall continue to have the option of making upfront payments for meters which will be installed within a maximum period of ten working days. Such customers shall be refunded by the DisCos through energy credits.

“However, it is imperative to note that this option is an exception as all MAPs are required to deploy meters in accordance with the agreed meter roll out plan and consistent with the MAP framework. There shall be no option for meter acquisition through the payment of a monthly meter service charge. In the determination of rates payable by customers, the Commission shall take into account the blend of “cost of debt” on account of the concessionary financing to DisCos under the NMMP.”

“The increase in registered customers was, in addition to the new connection, due largely to the on-going customer enumeration exercise by DisCos through which unregistered consumers of electricity were brought unto the DisCos’ billing platform. Similarly, the increase in metered customers was attributed to the roll-out of meters under the MAP scheme. The Abuja, Benin, and Eko DisCos had metered more than 50% of their registered electricity customers as of 30 June 2020.”

By Udeme Akpan