Electricity consumer groups on Thursday faulted directive by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to power Distribution Companies (DisCos) to replace obsolete meters under their networks.
The groups in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, urged the DisCos to focus on issuing meters to unmetered customers under the ongoing National Mass Metering Programme of the Federal Government.
Mr. Adeola Samuel-Ilori, the National Coordinator, All Nigeria Electricity Consumers Forum, said the directive by NERC was not a priority for the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry.
“The DisCos have a history of not complying with NERC’S directive and giving them power to take away customers meters under the guise of being obsolete is not the right way to go.
“This will only lead to more customers being placed on the obnoxious estimated billing system by the DisCos because there is an obvious shortage of prepaid meters in the country.
“NERC has previously ordered the DisCos not to decommission any meter as long as that meter is functional,” he said.
Samuel-Ilori said the Meter Reading Cash Collection Schedule 2007 provides that once a meter was certified by DisCos that it could no longer be read, they had only two days to replace the meter.
“So, with the current situation on ground can the DisCos comply with the provision?
“They will only add more customers to their estimated billing target if they are allowed to implement this directive without proper monitoring by NERC.”
Also, Mr. Chike Akachi, Director, Electricity for All, said the DisCos had formed the habit of not reading meters while issuing customers exorbitant electricity tariffs.
“We believe that if they come and read the meter, there will be no need for replacement unless it is not functioning or faulty,” he said.
However, Mr Godwin Idemudia, the General Manager, Corporate Communications, EKEDC, told NAN that the DisCo was already planning on the move prior to NERC’s directive.
Idemudia said, “before the NERC’s directive, we had plans to change all the obsolete meters assigned to customers under our network and we have been working on it.”
He said some of the meters were being phased out because they had exceeded the average life span of meters (10 years) thus becoming obsolete.
According to him, the meter’s offline vending feature makes it difficult for customers to recharge while its obsolete software makes them highly susceptible to viruses and hacks. (NAN)