June 18, 2023

Electricity: 58% of consumers without meters, says NERC



By Obas Esiedesa, Abuja

Despite the rising cost of electricity in the country, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, has reported that about 58 percent of registered electricity consumers in the country are without meters.

Without meters, consumers are billed under the estimated billing system by the electricity distribution companies, DisCos.

NERC in its fourth quarter 2022 report released at the weekend said as at 31st December 2022, there were 12,152,106 registered customers out of which 5,134,871 have been metered, representing 42.25 percent metering rate.

The report stated that between 2022/Q3 and 2022/Q4, the number of registered customers decreased by 639,791 (-5.00%), while the metering rate increased by +2.99 pp from 39.26% in 2022/Q3.

“The decline in the number of registered customers is due to the ceding of customers in Aba and Ariaria under nugu isCo’s franchise area to Aba Power Limited, as well as the ongoing customer database sanitization (cleaning the customer database to remove dormant accounts) at Benin DisCo”, it added.

The Commission observed that metering “addresses one of the major concerns customers have with DisCos – the fear of unfair billing”, disclosing that “an additional 164,612 end-user customers were metered in 2022/Q4.

“This represents an increase of +21,725 installations (+15.20%) compared to the 142,887 meters installed in 2022/Q3. Out of the 164,612 meters installed for end users in 2022/Q4, 3,831 (2.33%) were metered under the NMMP (National Mass Metering Programme) scheme, 160,114 (97.26%) customers were metered under the MAP (Meter Asset Providers) intervention and 667 (0.41%) were metered under the Vendor Financed scheme.

The report stated that the progress recorded in metering was driven majorly by six DisCos which accounted for 97.63 percent of the total installations in 2022/Q4.

“The group was led by Ikeja with 52,177 installations (31.70% of the total). Seven DisCos recorded an increase in the number of meters installed in 2022/Q4 relative to 2022/Q3 with Ikeja having the highest increase of +81.59%. On the other hand, three DisCos recorded decreases in the number of meters installed in 2022/Q4 relative to 2022/Q3 with Yola having the highest decline of -91.37%.

“In terms of metering rate, the DisCo that recorded the greatest improvement was Benin; +13.46 pp compared to 2022/Q3. Kaduna (-0.11 pp) was the only DisCo that recorded a decline in meter installation between 2022/Q3 and 2022/Q4”.

Reacting to the report, the President of Electricity Consumers Association, Chijoke James said it was not surprising as consumers have had to face “crazy bills” from the utilities.

James noted that until every customer is metered there can be no fair and equitable pricing for electricity.

“DisCos are happy to bill customers without meters because the consumers would largely be paying for what they have not consumed while the DisCos smile to the banks.

“We have always maintained that meters must be provided for all consumers. It is the responsibility of the DisCos to provide meters and it is also the responsibility of NERC to ensure that these meters are provided”, he added.