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UGO AMADI, Assistant Business Editor

 With the hope of reviving  the fortunes of Nigeria’s privatised electricity market which is currently under immense operational stress, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), new commissioners have outlined six areas the regulatory agency would focus on going forward.

This is coming almost two months after the inauguration of the board by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the commission at the last meeting of operators in the country’s power sector in Oshogbo, stated that it would focus on issues such as providing a cost efficient tariff for the sector as well as applying sanctions, where appropriate, to ensure operators comply with existing market rules.

According to a communique of discussions at the monthly meeting of the operators, the Vice Chairman of the commission, Mr. Sanusi Garba, stated that the commission would in addition to committing to keeping tariffs that would ensure a self-sustaining power sector, it would enforce the commitments made by electricity distribution companies (Discos) on metering of residential consumers, and prepaid meters for government’s Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The NERC, he added would also focus on ensuring that a centralised management of market revenues collected from all customers are maintained, that the Discos are appropriately capitalised, and procurements made within the sector are prudent.

The communique also noted that the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) restated its commitment to expand the country’s transmission infrastructure and improve on its operation.

Meanwhile, Fashola, at the meeting also responded to claims by the Discos that the government’s recent approval of N701 billion for the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) to cover payments to power generation companies (Gencos) was partial and unable to solve the sector’s challenges.

The Discos had through their trade association – the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) made claims that the intervention fund was not the real solution to the sector’s troubles. They also asked the government to consider a holistic solution that would include them for the sector rather than what they said was a half-measure.

But the minister said in response to their claims that the government was not out to reward indolent operators in the sector with financial guarantees or aids, but operators who have shown their commitment to productivity.

He said in a statement from his senior special assistant on communication, Mr. Hakeem Bello, that: “We don’t have contract with an association and the regulator knows what to do in terms of the exercise of its rights and we leave them to take their decisions.”

“What government wanted to achieve was not to give anybody money but to guarantee to those who did their work diligently, honestly and performed their contracts that their entitlements are receivable to be secured and paid,” he added.

On payment of debts owed the Discos by government’s MDAs, Fashola said the government had lately begun to verifying the debts, and recently paid about N374,551,000 owed by the Federal Secretariat in Abuja to the Abuja Disco as proof of its commitment to paying debts that it could verify.

He promised that the government would continue to pay in that vein, but expressed regrets that some Discos were yet to provide the government all the details required to verify and pay off debts owed them for electricity they supplied to its MDAs.

The minister also told the meeting that the Federal Executive Council has approved an ‘Energy Recovery Programme’, which, according to him, “cuts across the issues of gas, transmission, metering, loss reduction, contract enforcement, customer service and consumer protection.

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UGO AMADI, Assistant Business Editor

The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) has began the sensitisation of its customers in the South-East on the allegation that the currently being deployed smart pole prepaid meters were configured to rip off her customers.

Daily Champion gathered that customers across the zone have complained that the smart pole prepaid meters have compounded their energy challenges as they are said to run faster than the ones deployed when the company was managed by the Federal Government, thus increasing their monthly consumption.

The interactive session, held in Enugu and Abakaliki, had in attendance customers of EEDC, including those whose meters have been installed, representatives of various professional bodies and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

The customers were presented with a live demonstration of the metering process, integrity of the meter, meter tampering, meter acquisition processes, tips on energy management and process of online recharge of the meter.

EEDC’s meter engineer, Christopher Chukwu, stressed that the meters were not programmed to run fast, as being peddled; rather he encouraged customers to imbibe the culture of energy management and always switch off appliances when not in use and always go for energy-saving appliances.

He said meters are subjected to various regulatory checks and certification by respective government agencies like NEMSA before they get to them, adding that EEDC “does not and will not manipulate the functionality of their meters.”

“These are smart meters manufactured abroad and we do not have the intelligence, technology and know-how to manipulate them as that may lead to damage of the meters.

“It should be noted that EEDC is committed to metering its customers and closing the inherited metering gap. We have gone far in metering our maximum demand customers and currently metering our individual/residential customers,” he said.

There was also a demonstration on the integrity of the meters, when displayed and used to record the energy consumption of three different bulbs in less than 30 minutes and they recorded a particular consumption.

EEDC’s head of Communications, Emeka Ezeh, stated that the sensitisation was aimed at clearing the insinuations bothering on the integrity and performance of the meters, adding that it was also to clear the air on the process of acquiring and recharging the meters.

“This customer sensitisation exercise will continue across the remaining parts of the EEDC’s franchise area. This is also aimed at clearing the air of some unfounded insinuations bothering on the integrity and performance of the meters being made by some individuals and groups; and also educating the customers on the functionality of the meters, as well as processes of acquiring and recharging the meters”, he added.

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UGO AMADI

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has described the interplay between members of the executive and the legislative arms of government as an indispensible element of the democratic process with potential positive spin-off effect on the oil and gas industry in the country.

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