As part of efforts to end what Nigerians describe as crazy bill by electricity distribution companies (DisCos), the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has approved the capping of the amount to be paid by electricity customers across the country under the estimated billing system for unmetered customers.
According to an order repealing existing billing regulations of 2012, NERC expressed concern that just over 10 million electricity consumers have been metered in seven years, with about 52 per cent being invoiced on estimated billing.
Under the new regulation, all unmetered residential and commercial (R2 and C1) customers shall not be invoiced for the consumption of energy beyond the cap stipulated in the Order according to designated DisCos.
A statement posted on the commission’s website explained that “R1 (residential) customers, who, by definition consume no more than 50kw/hr of energy per month, shall continue to be billed at N4/kwhr and a maximum of N200 per month unless amended by an Order of the Commission”.
For consumers under Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, N24.30 per kwh was approved for R2 (above 50kw/hr) consumers, and N37.39 for C1 (single & 3 phase) consumers. Under Eko Electricity, residential consumers will pay N24 per kwh, while commercial consumers will pay N30/kwh with different energy caps.
R2S consumers under Ikeja Electric will pay N21.30 per kwh; R2T, N21.80; while C1S&T will pay N27.20 and N28.47, respectively.
NERC said in the Order: “The energy cap prescribed by the Commission shall only apply to R2 and C1 customers. All other customers on higher tariff classes must be metered by Discos no later than 30 April 2020, and failing to meet up, the said customers will not be liable to pay any estimated bill issued by the Disco.“
Any customer on such higher tariff classes not metered beyond 30 April 2020, shall remain connected to supply without further payment to the Disco, until a meter is installed on the premises under the framework of MAP regulations or any other financing arrangement approved by the commission.
“Where a customer’s meter becomes faulty and a replacement meter cannot be provided by the Disco within two working days, the customer shall be billed an average of the last three months billing/vending in accordance with section 16(1) of the MAP regulations until the meter is replaced.
NERC noted that the significant level of customer dissatisfaction arising from unrealistic estimated bills have also adversely impacted on the market revenues as a consequence of customer apathy and declining willingness to settle invoices in full.
NERC also acknowledged the shortcomings of the Meter Asset Provide scheme, stating that changes in fiscal policy and the limited availability of the long-term funding led to limited success in the meter roll-out.
To address the issue and numerous complaints by consumers, NERC, yesterday, repealed estimated billing methodology regulation as basis for computing the consumption of unmetered consumers, and set the deadline of April 30, 2020 for proper identification and metering of high energy users.