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Regulator threatens electricity firms for exploiting unmetered customers

Dissatisfied with the level of implementation of the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation by majority of the power distribution companies, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has said it will soon commence enforcement of compliance with the terms of of their operational license.

Consequently, the Commission said on Thursday that the DISCOs have been given seven days to show why they should not be sanctioned for failure to comply with the directive deriving from the terms and conditions of their licences.  

 In a letter to the defaulting utilities, namely Port Harcourt, Abuja, Yola, Ibadan, Ikeja, Eko, Benin and Enugu distribution companies, the Commission stated that it viewed their actions as flagrant breach of the law.

CAPMI is an arrangement by NERC designed for unmetered electricity customers who are willing to advance funds to the DISCOs for the purchase and installation of meters, subject to refund through a rebate on the fixed charge element of electricity bills over time.

Under the arrangement, once the customer advanced fund to the DISCO, he would get a meter installed within 45 days of payment.

The refund of the money to the customer would be the cost of the actual meter and accessories, through a reduction of 100 percent of the monthly fixed charge component of the electricity bill, in addition to 12 percent interest.

CAPMI scheme was introduced through an order, which became effective May 14, 2013, in which NERC directed that the scheme should be implemented at the same time in all the distribution companies.

Furthermore, the DISCOs were to redeploy electricity meters under the scheme to willing customers, including the installation of same within 45 days from the date of the payment by any customer.

However, in its letter to the DISCOs, NERC said following a recent comprehensive audit of the CAPMI scheme, it found out that compliance by the eight DISCOs was very poor, as they either failed or neglected to fully implement the terms of the CAPMI scheme.

The Commission said it also found out that the DISCOs have been collecting money from customers for credit meters not minding whether they opted for the scheme. The commission also said Discos have not been publicising the scheme thus giving misleading information to customers.

Condition 2(1) of the terms and conditions of the licence granted the DISCOs states, ‘’The licencee shall comply with the conditions of this licence and the requirements of the licenced  business as set out in the Act and Regulations approved by the Commission in accordance with the Commission’s statutory duty to monitor all licencees.’’

“The Commission considers your actions as manifest and flagrant breaches and therefore requires you to show cause in writing within seven days from the date hereon, why enforcement should not be commenced against you and sanctions meted accordingly for non-compliance with the Terms and Conditions of the license granted you and the order on Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation,” the Commission said in the letter to the affected companies.

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