The Federal Government is putting measures in place to stamp out the controversial estimated billing system in the power sector.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) said the legislative arm of government is considering criminalising estimated billing to earn consumers’ confidence while plans are ongoing by the executive and legislative arms of government to operationalise the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) regulation by leveraging private sector experience to bridge the metering gap in the sector using the N37billion Seed Fund provided by the government.
The minister noted this at the 28th monthly meeting of operators in the electricity industry, which held at Mando Transmission Station, Mando, Kaduna State. He stated that these measures have become imperative in view of instances of estimated billing, which have become major cause of distrust to customers in the power sector and advised the DisCos to leverage the N37billion facility to a Meter Asset Provider.
The operators expressed concern about reports of electricity distribution companies (DisCos) not connecting to completed distribution facilities built by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHC) and the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) on the grounds of difficulty in servicing the areas.
As a result of this development, the stakeholders resolved that all DisCos should submit to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) a list of the areas and communities within their franchise where they have difficulty in serving the customers and state the reasons in other to enable the government review and develop policies that will ensure service to these areas.
Another major subject that dominated the discussions was the challenge of power supply disruption, which comes with the rainy season such as breakdown of power equipment following thunderstorm, among others. Fashola, therefore, reiterated the need for operators to be proactive in resolving issues, which affect the quality of service during the rainy season in areas of repairs, maintenance and replacement of obsolete power infrastructure that will happen during adverse weather.
He emphasised the need for the DisCos to regularly get weather information from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) to predict service disruption and frequently inform consumers on restoration plans and timelines.
Fashola said: “I have used the opportunity of this meeting to focus attention of operators, generation companies (GenCos), Transmission Company and DisCos, who are the points of public interface, on the need to pay more attention to service delivery, repairs, and maintenance of equipment.
“We are beginning a different weather season that will see more rainfall, thunderstorms, lightening and windstorms. All of these will affect regular supply one way or another. Trees will fall and disrupt lines, poles and lines may be damaged, and service will be disrupted.
“In all these situations, we must prepare our staff to anticipate, plan, and respond. Most importantly, we must inform the public about the problems and what we are doing to restore service whenever there are disruptions. As a consumer myself, nothing gives me more comfort than when my service provider shares information about service disruptions. It tells me quickly that at least, somebody knows that there is a problem, and gives me hope that something is being done about it.”