The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has concluded plans to put limits on the idea of estimated billings, currently used by the 11 Power Distribution Companies (DISCOs), as a result of numerous complains of bogus bills from electricity consumers nationwide, after five years of power sector privitasation.
According to NERC in a released report ‘Consultation Paper on the Capping of Estimated Billing’, the commission rejected the estimated billing methodology which began almost six years ago, describing it as a total failure. It explained that the major source of complaints by all DISCOs customers is the problem of estimated billings by the electricity distribution companies.
NERC went on to add that stakeholders have been calling on the Commission to find a more impartial way of billing customers, in order to ensure that consumers are fairly billed.
Estimated Billing Methodology
Meanwhile, the regulation on estimated billing methodology was established by NERC to provide for the standardization of the methods used by DISCOs to estimate a consumer’s power usage and bills accruing, thereby, in instances where the DISCOs is unable to read the consumer’s bill within a billing period.
According to the privatisation programme, the 11 DISCOs have contractual obligation to meter all their customers within five years, as contained in the performance agreement they signed with the Federal Government of Nigeria. However, this metering obligation is yet to be fully met by the distribution companies, leading to mountain of complaints by the consumers.
According to the Commission, the issue brought about the introduction of the Methodology for Estimated Billing, which is structured to ensure that non-metered electricity consumers are billed with scientifically-generated estimates.
Consumers With Prepaid Meters
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its Power Sector Report for the second quarter of 2018, only 1.62 million Nigerian consumers are with Prepaid Meters (PPM) at the end of the second quarter of 2018. This shows an increase of 1.59% from 1.59 million customers in the previous quarter of Q1 2018.
The NBS report also revealed that out of the 1.62 million prepaid-metered customers in Q2 2018, Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) accounted for the highest number of customers with 282,868, which is the same number of customers they also metered in Q1 2028. They are closely followed by Abuja Disco with 270,918 metered customers and Ibadan Disco with 254,261 in that order. The least total number of metered customers during the period under review was recorded by Yola Disco with a total of 37,329 customers.
Estimated Billing vs Prepaid-Meter Billing
With just a total of 1.62 million estimated-meter consumers at the end of the quarter ending June 2018 and a quarter on quarter PPM increase of just 1.59% from the previous quarter of Q1 2018, it clearly shows that majority of Nigerian consumers are still without prepaid meters. The report equally shows that most of the Power Distribution Companies (DISCOs) are not ready to issue consumers with PPM, as most of them recorded a PPM increase of 0% in Q2 2018, which means no PPM was issued out to consumers during the period under review. Out of the 11 DISCOs operating in Nigeria, only 3 of them issued PPM to their consumers throughout the second quarter of 2018.