A group, the All Electricity Consumers Protection Forum, has faulted the hike in the cost of prepaid meters by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
In an interview with newsmen on Tuesday in Lagos, its National Coordinator, Mr Adeola Samuel-Ilori, said that the increment was insensitive to end-user consumers in the electricity value chain.
NAN reports that NERC had in a public notice on its website on June 4 announced an increment in the average cost of meters to N82,855 for three-phase and N44, 896 for single phase.
This is against the previous price of N36,991 for single-phase and N67,055 for three-phase paid by customers to obtain meters under the ongoing Meter Asset Provider (MAP) scheme in the country.
” In arriving at the approved unit costs, the commission has considered the recent changes in foreign exchange approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the applicable rates available to importers of meter components and/or fully assembled meters through the “Investors and Exporters” forex window.
“The effective date of the new rates is June 1, 2020, ” NERC said in the notice.
Reacting, Samuel-Ilori said electricity consumers in Nigeria were not being protected enough by NERC, which is the regulatory agency of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
He said: ” Coming to the increase in the meter price due to the increase in foreign exchange, it’s quite insensitive on the side of the regulatory commission to have done that without consultation with the stakeholders involved, namely the end-user consumers.
“The quoted section to justify their action which is Section 76 of Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 does not even relate to metering but a request for an increase in tariff by the distribution companies.
” Section 2 (7) says that before such increase can take place wide consultation must be done with stakeholders, namely, the consumers and other participants.”
Samuel-Ilori maintained that it was therefore not proper for NERC to unilaterally increase the cost of acquiring the meters without recourse to the purchasing power ability of consumers, especially in such economic trying times.
He said the increment would only constrain more customers having access meters, which was also against NERC’s target for metering of all customers by December 2021.
Samuel-Ilori argued that customers paying for meters itself was an aberration as the EPSRA Act of 2005 states that power utility companies are charged with the responsibility of metering consumers.
“Suddenly, because of the inefficiency of the distribution companies, MAP was created with the end-user consumers vested with the obligations to provide a meter for themselves while still paying for the electricity used,” he said.