….as it deploys technology for instant billing
AG. BUSINESS EDITOR
Ikeja Electric Plc, Nigeria’s largest distribution company, has said it is still pushing ahead with its metering scheme to ensure the provision of prepaid meters to all its customers.
The company said it was concluding the enumeration of its customers and technical audit of assets in its network.
The Head, Corporate, Communications, Ikeja Electric, Mr. Felix Ofulue, stated this after an inspection of the metering project on Lasisi-Oshoja and Ore-Ofe streets in Idimu, Lagos.
He said, “We are taking stock of the customers so that they can benefit from our metering scheme. We are also taking stock of our assets to know how many of them we need to rehabilitate and what we need to replace. We started this a long time ago and we are just trying to round it off now.
“There is so much noise that we are not metering but we are still providing prepaid meters to customers. It may not be at the pace the customers want, but we are metering. Right now, we are metering Idimu and Ikeja GRA. We are still doing the customer enumeration and technical audit at Amuwo Odofin before commencing the metering.”
Ofulue said the company had engaged a couple of meter manufacturers, adding, “We are currently in talks with them.”
One of the residents of Lasisi-Oshoja Street, Mr. John Familugba, reportedly said, “We were just provided a prepaid meter and it is a good development. It will put an end to estimated billing. Now, we know that whatever we are paying for is what we are consuming. Nobody will come to my house to disconnect my line. The fact that the meter is on the pole shows that it cannot be tampered with.”
Another customer, Chief Olusegun Ajayi, was quoted as saying the deployment of the prepaid meters would minimise the problems between the power firm and the people in the community, and encourage energy efficiency.
“It is a welcome idea because if you don’t pay, you can’t have electricity supply. It will also make consumers to stop abusing electricity. If you think you can abuse it, you will be spending a lot of money.”
However, In her attempt to improve upon billing cycles, Ikeja Electric has also introduced a new e-billing initiative. The project takes advantage of technology upgrades within the business, thereby enabling post-paid customer with various options for receiving their power bills. This service is however complementary to IE’s paper bill delivery and not a replacement.
The project allows post-paid customers receive text messages indicating their current month power consumption and corresponding bill. This sms is however received only by customers whose numbers are captured on IE’s billing platform. For customers with valid e-mail accounts registered on her billing platform, IE sends details of the bill with a PDF copy of the customer bill attached. The attachment provides the customer’s bill summary, bill details, bill history as well as links to our various online payment channels. Not to be left out, a pilot programme for Maximum Demand Customers is currently running, where they can register on IE’s website to see details of their bills as well as payment history.
Ikeja Electric has consistently leveraged on technology to provide seamless service delivery for her customers. The new project will provide added convenience, as well speed up the entire payment processes for IE’s customers
The project, divided into two phases, began with the pilot run targeted at only MD customers, who successfully received bill details via email and SMS. The next phase (starting with June bill) will feature NMD customers with email and/or mobile numbers listed on IE’s billing platform. Speaking on the response of MD customers to the initiative, Head Corporate Communications, Felix Ofulue said, “As this is a new initiative, we will need to deliver on several monthly bill delivery runs to begin to ascertain full customer response. But to date, we have seen a number of our MD customers already register on the IE E-bills website. This is a welcome development”.
Addressing concerns in some quarters that the use of technology portends possible job cuts for Energy Sales Representatives, Ofulue clarified that since NERC regulations stipulated paper bill distribution, the role of ESR’s was still required. He further buttressed that the role of ESR’s went beyond just bill distribution noting that they were a crucial part of IE’s service chain.
Customers are advised to update their records to ensure they receive the e-bills, accordingly.
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