The controversies surrounding estimated billing may delay metering of consumers who are yet to be metered.
Investigation reveals that uncertainties still surrounds government’s implementation of electricity meter policy which many describe as exploitative, especially in the face of many challenges facing the Discos whose responsibility it is to ensure customers are adequately metered.
Some stakeholders said part of the challenge is government’s regulation and lopsided policy that has not totally allowed full deregulation of the sector.
Information available to the media says that the 11 Discos operating across the country have so far collectively provided 403,255 meters to their customers in a concerted effort to bridge the metering gap in the country.
Figures from the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) indicate that out of a 6,159, 775 customers only 3,206,599 customers or 52 per cent have so far been provided with meters leaving a yawning gap of 2,953,176 unmetered customers.
The Federal Government had at various times made promises to tackle electricity meter-related challenges but the problem which gave rise to the exploitation of consumers largely remains unresolved.
.The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the statutory agency mandated to regulate and monitor the electricity industry in 2012 said pre-paid meters would be provided free to consumers and that provision had been made for free installation of the meters in the new electricity tariff which took effect from June 1, 2012.
The NERC also claimed that the Discos had been provided with funds to ensure the success of the campaign billed to last for 18 months. But a counter directive was issued shortly after requiring consumers to pay between N25,000 and N50,000 under the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI).Unfortunately, there appears to be no headway as consumers continue to groan under huge bills under the unpopular estimated billing process. Also, the Discos, despite close monitoring by NERC have clearly said customers would have to stay without meters even for upward of two years.
It was gathered that the current challenge is not a matter of whether meters are available or not, but rather the Discos are highly incapacitated financially to procure and install meters for customers. Local meter manufacturers say they are ready to meet the demand for meters, particularly with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) new policy of regular release of forex into the market.