By Obas Esiedesa
The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) on Wednesday began the installation of 222,000 pre-paid meters worth about N10 billion, assuring customers that it does not profit by adopting estimated billing system.
The utility said the latest phase of its mass metering project would drastically reduce the number of its customers without meters.
The company explained that its target is to have all customers metered as it was the only was it can improve its revenue and reduce the Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection loss.
Speaking at the flag-off of the project at the CITEC Estate in Abuja, the Chairman of AEDC Board, Alhaji Shehu Malami said the lack of meters has always been a source of disagreement between electricity distribution companies and customers.
According to him, “The issue of metering of customers is one that has become topical and recurring in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry. Historically, the government has taken bold steps to resolve this issue through the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI) and of recent, the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) policies.
“These intervention schemes stem from the fact that shortage of meter or the lack of it is both at the root of the huge ATC&C losses the DisCos currently suffer as well as the source of the frequent disagreement between them and their customers. A successfully executed metering program will enhance both transparency in the bill of customers as well as energy accountability.
“The commitment of N10 billion for the provision of 222,728 pieces of meters alone by AEDC is therefore a bold move by the company that clearly debunks the claim that DisCos are benefiting from estimated billing. This project will last for five months after which all metering programs will come under the Meter Asset provider policy that has been put in place by the NERC”.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of the company, Engr. Ernest Mupwaya said the mass metering project will address the challenge of high losses from areas where there are no meters.
Mupwaya explained that “commissioned studies have shown that we incur more losses in areas of where there are no meters. Our loss level in those areas is up to 70 percent”.
He expressed optimism that the mass deployment of meters will address the challenge of resistance to payment and energy accounting, saying it will engender trust in billing as customers were always unwilling to pay when supply was low.
He explained further that “before the deployment of this 222,000 meters, our metering gap has been in the region of 450,000. When you do the arithmetic, you find that it will remain with a gap of about 230,000 – 250,000, give and take, because there are customers that are being enrolled.
“When you look at the horizon in the next 10 years the customer base may grow up to two million and we have factored that into MAP. Our intention is to reach a position where every customer got a meter and any new customer is provided with a meter”.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola who commissioned the project, said the provision of electricity meters was at the heart of the power sector reform.
Represented by the Director, Distribution System Department of the Ministry, Mrs. Briskilla Sakpe, the Minister commended the AEDC on its effort to provide meters for customers.
He urged customers to desist from bypassing meters, pointing that it was a criminal offence to do so.
He assured DisCos that ministry was working hard to avoid MDAs debt to the sector, disclosing that a model that domiciles the all MDAs payments was been worked out.