NERC reveals discos’ fraud against consumers in estimated billing scheme

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The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Prof James Momoh, has opened up on the procedure to be followed to generate bills for yet to be metered electricity customers which had been violated with impunity over the years till date.

Explaining the process in an interview, he made it clear that the methodology for estimated billing as issued by the NERC provides that it remains scientific method to estimate electricity consumption with the aim of bringing fairness to customers who had no meters.

He said “The provisions of the methodology require that all distribution transformers are metered first of all”.

“The aim is to have a scientific means of deducting the consumption of customers who have meters from the distribution transformer meter and then share what is left appropriately to customers who have no meters.

“From our findings, Discos have failed to meter any transformer which is a breach of contract so as to rightly deduct prepaid value and share the rest equitably to yet to be metered electricity consumers.

Prof Momoh further noted that “The Discos failed to do distribution transformer metering, which the methodology was heavily dependent on for fairness, hence the source of inaccuracy in estimated billing.”

According to Momoh, the Regulation on Meter Reading, Cash Collections and Credit Management (2007) states that estimated billing shall only occur where a distribution company is unable to obtain a meter reading at a customer’s premises.

NERC further added that “It is expected that where a consumer is billed an unrealistic amount or crazy bill, he/she should pay the last estimated bill that he/she is comfortable with and then make a formal complaint to the consumer complaints office of the Disco.

Momoh observed that since the privatisation of the power sector, there had been a constant decline in the provision of meters to existing customers by the Discos while new customers had been added steadily to their networks, contributing to a significant metering gap.

He said investigations by the commission revealed that a total number of 5,172,979 electricity customers were registered as of May 2012, but only 2,893,701 had meters.

He decried that upon all the 11 Discos had signed performance agreements with the Bureau for Public Enterprises in 2013, with the provision of 1,640,000 meters expected annually over the next five years, but not of 40 per cent is met by Discos.

He added that Discos failed to abide by the performance agreement terms and also failed to effectively meter customers under the Credit Advance Payment for Metering Initiative.

“This setback meant that by December 2018, the number of customers had risen to 8,342,880 with 3,558,692 metered and a total of 4,784,188 unmetered and billed on estimates,” NERC boss reveals.