The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has ordered electricity distribution companies (DisCos), to reimburse customers who have paid for the acquisition of meters under the Meter Assets Provider (MAP) framework.
The commission gave the order in a document dated March 20, 2023. The order took effect on April 1, 2023, according to the document, which provided guidelines for the disbursement.
NERC said the 2021 MAP and national mass metering regulations provide for the reimbursement of the cost of meters procured by customers under the MAP framework.
“Section 8 (f) of the Regulations provides that distribution licensees are obligated to reimburse customers who pay for meters under the MAP framework through equal instalments of energy credits, at the time of vending, with the cost of the meter amortised over a maximum period of 36 months,” the document says.
“Section 24 (1) (b) of the regulations provides that where a customer elects to make upfront payments for meters under these regulations, the cost of the meter shall be refunded through energy credits by the distribution licensee.
“The reimbursement schedule shall be as approved by the commission, having regard to an evaluation of the financial standing of the distribution licensee.
“This provision also applies to upfront payments made by customers upon commencement of the MAP framework in 2018.” The commission said it conducted an evaluation of the financial standing of the DisCos, which led to a review of the 36-month reimbursement period that was in place.
Amortisation Of Cost Of Prepaid Meter Under MAP
NERC said the order also mandates that all meters installed under the MAP framework should be included in the regulatory asset base (RAB) of the DisCos by the commission at the next major or extraordinary tariff review.
According to the commission, the cost of a prepaid meter paid by a customer under MAP shall be amortised over 120 equal instalments and reimbursed through energy credits computed based on the prevailing tariff at the time of vending.
“Where a customer does not vend in a given month or months, the DisCo shall, at the point of the next vending, refund the accumulated energy credits due to the customer for the period not ended,” the document further reads.
“Where a post-paid customer purchases a meter, reimbursement by the DisCo shall be in the form of a rebate on customers’ monthly invoice to reflect the fixed monthly reimbursement computed on the cost of the meter spread over a period of 120 months.
“All DisCos shall ensure that the refund of the cost of a MAP meter appears as a distinct line item on the vending receipt of prepaid customers and monthly bill of the post-paid customers. The line item should clearly indicate the energy cost, the corresponding energy value being refunded and the outstanding balance of the cost of the meter.
All DisCos shall file monthly reports with the Commission containing a breakdown of the total monetary value of refund to customers through energy credit in accordance with the Commission’s prescribed template.”
In 2018, the NERC introduced the MAP regulation to new investors in the power sector to fast-track the rollout of meters through the engagement of third-party investors and end the estimated billing regime. Also in 2019, the commission issued permits to asset providers to begin the rollout of new prepaid meters by May 1, approving 26 contractors under the programme as of December 31 of that year.