The Federal Government has ordered electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) across the country to engage in mass national metering to put an end to the issue of estimated billing. In a statement issued yesterday by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the government also said that unmetered customers cannot experience increase in bills by the DISCOs. It, however, stated that any increase in billing must be done in consultation with the customers, while unmetered customers cannot be charged any thing higher than their metered counterparts in the same neighbourhood.
The statement signed by Chairman of NERC, James Momoh, was “in response to media reports that there is an increase in tariffs for Nigerians.” “… 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.
“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,” he said. The statement said: “NERC wishes to clarify that tariff reviews going forward will only follow service-based principles. Under these service-based principles, DISCOs will only be able to review tariff rates for customers when they consult with customers, commit to increasing the number of hours of supply per day and quality of service.
“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. Under the Service Based Tariff Structure, DISCOs can only review tariffs for customers under the following conditions: Customers are consulted and communicated a guaranteed level of electricity service by the DISCOs based on hours of supply “No estimated billing through the strict enforcement of the capping regulation.
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. Customers receiving less than 12 hours of supply will also not experience any change in tariffs.”