MAP: Towards reducing electricity metering gap

With the nationwide distribution of meters set to begin on May 1 2019, electricity consumers are confident that the Meter Assets Provider policy of government may after all signal the dawn of a new era in power distribution nationwide.

The Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) of 2005 and the subsequent  privatisation of Nigeria’s electricity sector in 2013, statutorily saddled the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) the responsibility of providing meters to electricity customers and other electricity distribution infrastructure.

In spite the mandate, records from Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), indicate that DisCos were yet to fully provide meters, especially to residential consumers.

The inability to provide meters to significant number of residential consumers, had resulted to alternative billing of unmetered customers on estimated billing, based on  methodology provided by NERC.

The metering challenge

Previous metering scheme, like the Credited Advanced Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI), initiated by NERC did not yield the desired results of reducing the metering gap.

NERC in its second quarter report of 2018, published on its website, noted that metering remained a key challenge facing the electricity industry.

The records of the commission indicate that of the 7,973,876 registered electricity customers, only 3,574,129, representing about 45 per cent were metered as at the end of second quarter of 2018.

NERC noted that majority of electricity consumers , about 55 per cent were  still on estimated billing, thus contributing to customers’ apathy for payment of  electricity bills.

Consumers have repeatedly accused DisCos of arbitrariness and lack of transparency in the method used to cost and assess energy consumed.

DisCos on their part, always insist that estimated billing was based on NERC‘s approved methodology.

They, however, hinged their inability to fully meter customers and end estimated billing to inadequate funds to invest in metering services.

Introducing the MAP policy

But in a renewed move to end  estimated billing and close the metering gap through accelerated meter roll out, NERC issued the 2018 Meter Asset Provider (MAP) regulations.

The regulations were made under Section 96 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA).

According to NERC, the objective of MAP is to provide standard rules to encourage development of competitive metering  services  in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), and fast-track meter roll-out and close the metering gap within the three years target.

Under the regulations, NERC shall license pre-qualified MAP, who will finance, install, maintain and where necessary, replace end-user electricity meters.

The meter asset providers are expected to eliminate estimated billing practice, attract private investment into the provision of metering services, and close the metering gap through accelerated meter roll-out.

The regulations came into effect on April 3, 2018, and all the 11 Discos are required to commence the procurement process of engaging meter asset providers to serve their service areas in accordance with an approved roll-out plan.

NERC also disclosed in a recent document, that115 firms had been granted ‘No Objection’ as at November 22, 2018  to participate in the MAP.

NERC said the mass metering for electricity consumers under the MAP policy of the Federal Government would begin by May 1.

Making MAP work

Dr Usman Arabi, NERC’s General Manager, Public Affairs, said that the commission issued permits to MAPs on April 5, in accordance with Section 4(3) of the MAP Regulations 2018, to MAPs that were successful in the procurements.

“The procurement was conducted by Abuja Electricity Distribution Company Plc  (AEDC)  and  Jos Electricity Distribution Company Plc (JEDC). Section 4(3) of the MAP Regulation 2018 requires all electricity distribution licensees to engage MAPs that would assist, as investors, in closing the metering gap.

“AEDC appointed Mojec International Limited, Meron Consortium and Turbo Engineering Limited to provide 487,000; 213,000 and 200,000 meters, while JEDC  appointed Triple 7 and Mojec International Limited Consortium to provide 500,000 meters.’’

Arabi said customers of AEDC) and JEDC should expect meters to be installed in their premises within 10 working days of making payment to MAPs.

He said the payment and installation of the meters within the time frame was in accordance with Section 18 (3) of the MAP Regulations 2018.

“MAPs shall charge a maximum of N36,991.50 for single phase meters and N67,055.85 for three phase meters.

“These costs are inclusive of supply, installation, maintenance and replacement of meters over its technical life,’’Arabi said.

Licensing the MAPs

Arab also said the commission had also issued permits to MAPs of Ikeja and Benin Discos in accordance with Section 4(3) of the MAP regulations.

Arab said the permit was granted to the MAPs that were successful in the procurements conducted by Ikeja and Benin DisCos.

He said Ikeja DisCo has appointed Mojec International Limited to provide 399,790 meters, while Consolidated Infrastructure Group Ltd is to provide 397,922 meters.

“Similarly, New Hamshire   Capital Ltd would also supply 276,699 meters within the Ikeja   Disco coverage areas under MAP,’’ Arab said.                                  ‘

He said Benin Disco has appointed FLT Energy System Ltd, G-Unit Engineering Ltd, Inlaks Power Solution Ltd, Sabrud Consortium Nigeria Ltd and Turbo Energy Ltd to provide meters within its coverage areas.

AEDC on its part, said it had also received the approval of NERC to begin installation of meters, under MAP policy.

Getting down to business

The General Manager, Corporate Communications of AEDC , Mr Oyebode Fadipe,  said the  commencement of the field operations of MAP, initiated  by NERC was a visible effort on the part of the regulator to address the metering gap in the sector.

“For us in AEDC, the MAP policy speaks to our overall transformation agenda for greater service delivery to our customers. The metering programme will not only engender billing integrity and improve our revenue base, it will also cut down sharply the issue of estimated billing, which has remained a source of concern to our customers.”

He said AEDC was currently working with the NERC approved MAP to perfect necessary logistics associated with the commencement of the field work.

As Nigerians eagerly await the rolling out of meters, via the MAP policy, beginning from May 1, it is expected that estimated billing methodology in the nation’s power sector will soon come to an end.

Electricity consumers are expectant that the success of MAP would also reduce energy  theft and  ultimately ensure accountability in billing of energy  consumed by  consumers .

Source: NAN

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