Unmetered customers hit 7million as Discos install 560,965 meters

Unmetered customers hit 7million as Discos install 560,965 meters
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Power distribution companies installed a total of 560,965 meters in 2022, as the number of unmetered registered electricity consumers increased to 7,017,235, the Federal Government has said.

The latest figures obtained from the new fourth quarter 2022 report of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, a Federal Government agency, indicated that the number of unmetered registered electricity consumers in Nigeria as at December 2022 was over seven million.

Data collated by our correspondent from the regulators’ fourth, third, second and first quarter reports showed the slow pace of metering by all the 11 power distribution companies despite the various metering programmes in the power sector.

The Federal Government had introduced the Meter Asset Provider scheme and the National Mass Metering Programme to help cut down on the number of unmetered customers nationwide. But millions of power users have continue to complain of their inability to access meters.

An analysis of the reports showed that in the fourth, third, second and first quarters of 2022, the Discos installed 164,612 meters, 142,887 meters, 167,956 meters and 85,510 meters respectively.

Commenting on metering in the fourth quarter of last year, the NERC said, “The NESI (Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry) continues to be challenged by the inadequate deployment of end-use customer meters.

“As at December 2022, only 5,134,871 (42.25 per cent) of the 12,152,106 registered energy customers have been metered.”

This implies that a total of 7,017,235 power users were still being given estimated bills by the power firms, going by data in the NERC’s most recent quarterly report.

The power sector regulator added, “The net metering rate represents a +2.99 pp (percentage point) increase compared to the 39.26 per cent recorded at the end of 2022/Q3.

“A total of 164,612 meters were installed in 2022/Q4 compared to the 142,887 meters installed in 2022/Q3 – an increase of +21,725 installations (+15.20 per cent).”

The commission said it expected the Discos to utilise any of the five meter financing mechanisms that had been provided in the 2021 Meter Asset

Provider and National Mass Metering Regulations (NERC–R–113–2021) to close their respective metering gaps.

 “As a safeguard for customers against exploitation due to the lack of meters, the commission has continued to issue monthly energy caps for all feeders in each Disco which sets the maximum amount of energy that may be billed to an unmetered customer for the respective month based on gross energy received by the Disco and the consumption of metered customers,” it stated.

In the third quarter of 2022, the commission stated that the substantial metering gap for end-use customers remained a key challenge in the industry, adding that as at September 2022, it was estimated that only 5,021,682 (39.26 per cent) of the 12,791,897 registered energy customers had been metered.

“By comparison, the net metering rate in the NESI increased from 38.74 per cent metering in June 2022 to 39.26 per cent in September 2022. A total of 142,887 meters were installed in 2022/Q3 compared to the 167,956 meters installed in 2022/Q2,” the commission stated.

It added, “The meter installations decreased compared to 2022/Q2, this is as a result of the winding down of the National Mass Metering Programme phase 03.”

The commission said it had continued to engage relevant stakeholders to ensure month-on-month increments in metering rate, while instituting safeguards against over-billing of unmetered customers.

This, according to NERC, was done by setting maximum limits to the amount of energy that might be billed to an unmetered customers every month through the issuance of monthly energy caps to reflect the energy supplied to each Disco.

In Q2 2022, the NERC report showed that the estimated number of registered customers at the time was 12,643,630, while only 4,898,721 (38.74 per cent) had been metered then.

“A total of 167,956 meters were installed in 2022/Q2 compared  to the 85,510 meters installed in 2022/Q1. By comparison, the net metering rate increased from 37.79 per cent metering in March 2022 to 38.74 per cent in June 2022.

“The meter installations increased compared to 2022/Q1 despite the  winding down of the National Mass Metering Programme phase 02 as a result of the uptake of the MAP metering scheme by most Discos,” the commission stated.

For Q1 2022, the NERC put the estimated number of registered customers at the time at 12,542,581, while only 4,740,114 (37.79 per cent) were metered in that quarter.

“A total of 85,510 meters were installed in 2022/Q1 as compared  to the 79,978 meters installed in 2021/Q4. At a macro level, quarterly meter installations have been reducing as a result of the winding down of the National Mass Metering Programme phase 02.

“By comparison, the net metering rate dropped from 45.4 per cent metering as at December 2021 to

37.79 per cent in March 2022 – this can be explained by the constant updating of Discos customer base information as a result of ongoing customer enumeration,” the commission explained.

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