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General News of Monday, 15 November 2021

Source: www.sunnewsonline.com

Outrage over 54% increase in electricity meter prices

Electricity meters Electricity meters

The Federal Government and electricity consumers may be at daggers drawn over a 54 per cent increase in the cost of electricity meters which takes effect today.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), in a circular to all the 11 Discos, announced a 32.8 per cent and 21.7 per cent increase in the cost of electricity meters.

In the circular, NERC increased the price of a single-phase meter from the current cost of N44,896.17 to a revised price of N58,661.69.

This was even as it increased the price of a three-phase meter from the current cost of N82,855.19 to a revised rate of N109,684.36.

But, the President, Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, Mr.Kunle Olubiyo, said consumers were not consulted before the increase, saying the group will ensure that consumers are treated fairly and not reaped off.

He argued that the entire privatization exercise for the power sector should be reviewed; saying a situation where government continues to provide subsidies for a private enterprise was no longer sustainable.

Olubiyo, who is also a member of the Presidential Adhoc Committee on Review of Electricity Tariff, noted that the current metering gap in the country is about 10 million, saying the idea of government creating intervention for the Discos through the funding of electricity meters further puts a drain on government revenue.

Olubiyo disclosed the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP} of Federal Government, which aims to further bridge the country’s metering gap through a free metering progammes for unmetered households, was not yielding the expected result.

According to the Federal Government, the NMMP was designed to ensure a seamless metering process that allows customers to register and be metered on the same day after following due process.

But, Olubiyo said, rather than the NMMP to bridge the metering gap, the number of unmetered households has continued to swell.

He argued that the N250 billion set aside by the Federal Government under the Phase 0 of the NMMP was grossly inadequate to complete the process, adding that the metering gap in transiting from Phase 0 to Phase 1 is already creating meter scarcity in the power sector.

He maintained that government does not have a business providing free meters for Nigerians, advising that government should return to the old model of CAMPI, where consumers pay for meters and are credited with electricity token and some addition to make up for the money used in purchasing the meter.

The power advocacy expert disclosed that despite the NMMP, consumers are still paying for meters, saying the NMMP and Meter Asset Provider (MAP) are still running simultaneously in some parts of the country.

‘‘Do you know people are even paying more than the approved rates for meters in this country?

Consumers, constantly slammed with estimated billing, are ready to pay a premium in order to get meters. With this increase, this will further impoverish Nigerians. It is only in the urban centres that you get meters for free.

But even at this, consumers cannot have access to the meters because the demand is far more than the supply,’’.

Olubiyo said the Federal Government will require over N500 billion to provide meters for unmetered Nigerians.

He lamented that all efforts to get the regulator to address this latest increase has been difficult, saying similar to past increases in electricity tariff, the regulator is always evasive.

The consumer rights activist said the operations of the regulator is opaque, saying most time they are never willing to engage the public or consumers on some of its policy decision.

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