IBEDC METERS OVER 650,000 CUSTOMERS, AWAITS NERC APPROVAL ON MAP
As Distribution Companies (DisCos) brace up for the Meter Access Provider (MAP) scheme by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Regulation No. NERC/R/112), which took effect April last year, Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), has disclosed the firm’s near completion of the selection phase of MAP.
Besides, the Disco stated that it has metered 650,000 customers, with efforts to add more.
According to the company, the results of its bidding process was sent to NERC last month for approval following which the scheme would commence; this the company explained, was a step taken after the publication of interest.
The company’s Head, Branding and Corporate Communications, Angela Olanrewaju, who expressed optimism about the ability of the scheme to cover the lingering meter gap in the country, told The Guardian that IBEDC is determined to cover up the gap with the three years span of the scheme even if it meant taking up additional meter access providers.
The MAP regulation, approved by NERC is a renewed bid to meter electricity customers in the country, to address issues of estimated billing, as figures from the regulatory body state that only 3,547,129 have been metered by all the 11 DisCos out of the total of 7,476,856 registered customers.
NERC in its 2018 second-quarter report listed only four (Abuja, Benin, Eko, and Port-Harcourt) out of the 11 DisCos to have metered not less than 50 per cent of their registered customers as at the end of the second quarter of 2018.
The regulation, which provides for the supply, installation and maintenance of end-user meters by other parties, seeks to fast track the closure of the metering gap as well as promote the development of independent and competitive meter services in the electricity industry.
Olanrewaju disclosed that in spite of the huge prevailing challenges in the sector, the company which has the largest franchise in terms of geography and numbers have thus far metered over 650,000 customers and would consistently adhere to plans to meter more.
“Hence grading our metering performance solely on percentage is not a true reflection of our efforts towards metering our customers. As such, the number of our metered customers do not relate to high percentage rating against our large franchise area,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of Sahara Power Group (SPG), Kola Adesina, has maintained that metering is a component of a big system and until the full systemic default and defects are addressed, it would be difficult to impossible to isolate it as a subsystem.
Metering, he explained, is a cost component for distribution companies and for them to fully meter, it means the entire cost structure must have been properly taken care of to ensure the cost of supply of electricity is lower than the price of the commodity. Until then, “it’s almost impossible to meter the way Nigerians desired to be metered.”
Adesina, who appreciated the Federal Government’s move on the issuance of license to 108 companies on meter supply to accelerate the MAP scheme, noted that the initiative on its own is a good one, however, stakeholders should speak to the proximate cause of the problem, which is a tariff.
He affirmed that estimated billing is not a reasonable and responsible way to cost by any distribution company anywhere in the world, and it’s in their best interest to meter, but apart from bridging the trust gap between DisCos and customers, meter is just a measuring instrument and can’t solve the problems of the power sector as perceived.
“Metering is the last thing actually in the chain of distribution business, because before that you have a substation, feeder, lines, circuit breakers, transformers and if any one of those is not properly functioning and rehabilitated or upgraded, even if you meter the quantum and unit of energy you deserve in the meter won’t be there and nothing would be in it to calibrate,” he added.