NERC had in September last year directed the 11 electricity distribution companies operating in the country to formally wind down the alternative meter financing scheme on or before November 1, 2016. The scheme was initiated by NERC in 2013.
The commission had stated that the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation, which allowed electricity consumers to self-finance meter acquisition and installation given that Discos were unable to promptly deploy meters to them, would cease to exist from November 1, 2016.
But on Thursday, the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, stated that both the federal and state governments recently resolved that NERC should reinstate the regulation that permits power consumers to purchase meters, especially where the Discos could not provide the facility.
The ministry said the resolution was reached at the recent third edition of the National Council on Power. The communique issued at the end of the meeting was made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Thursday.
It was gathered that the council was presided over by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and supported by the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Suleiman Hassan. Council members from 27 states of the federation attended the meeting.
The communique read in part, “Council considered issues, observations and recommendations made by the working/technical committees as contained in the reports laid before it, and took key decisions as well as gave directives for implementation with time lines as outlined below.
“NERC to reinstate regulations permitting willing customers to purchase meters from approved meter vendors as approved by the distribution companies and the Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency with a framework to reimburse such customers in cash, or energy.
“NERC to issue a regulation that enables third-party meter providers to install and manage customers’ meters, provided that such third parties are certified by NEMSA and approved by the Discos based on available metering standards. NERC to provide a framework for compensating the investment made by meter service providers in cash or shares in the Discos.”
The council also stated that NERC should commence an aggressive multi-platform public awareness programme that would reach as many customers as possible and explain all policies and regulations and obligations related to metering.
It directed NERC to enforce on the Discos the policy directive that any unmetered customer was obligated to pay only the last undisputed bill, adding that if the customer remained unmetered, the last undisputed bill should be discounted by 15 per cent in each subsequent year that the customer remained unmetered provided that the failure to meter the customer was the fault of the Disco.
The council noted that in areas where distribution infrastructure was non-existent, NERC should franchise the opportunity to provide services to interested investors, including states and local governments through regulations such as the mini-grid regulations.
The council stated, “In areas where customers are dissatisfied with the services they are currently enjoying, NERC regulations should give customers the option of contracting better services from service providers and generation companies through policies like the eligible customers regulation and mini-grids using varieties of generation technologies; obtaining better services by compelling Discos to appoint retail agents; and obtaining better services by compelling the Discos to relinquish their franchise to capable investors/service providers.”