The number of complaints received by electricity distribution companies in the country from consumers rose to 297,897 in the first half of this year, compared to the 262,098 complaints lodged in H1 2018, data obtained from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission showed.
The 11 Discos received 151,938 complaints in the first three months of 2019 and 145,959 complaints in the second quarter.
The NERC data indicated that 1,603 complaints per day were lodged by consumers in Q1, compared to 1,688 complaints received daily in the preceding quarter.
The regulator said the proportion of the number of complaints resolved by the Discos in the second quarter increased slightly from 87.05% to 87.71%.
It said during the same period, Enugu Disco received the highest customer complaints while Yola Disco recorded the lowest customer complaints.
NERC said, “The Discos’ customer complaints centred on service interruption, poor voltage, load shedding, metering, estimated billing, disconnection, and delayed connection, among others.”
“The number of complaints on metering and billing decreased significantly during the quarter under review but still dominates the customer complaints.”
According to the commission, metering and billing accounted for 52.80% (77,063) of the total complaints received in Q2 as against 60.96% (92,626) recorded in Q1.
“This implies that, on average, 847 customers complained about metering and billing per day in the second quarter of 2019. Another issue of serious concern is service interruption, accounting for 9.86% (14,396) of the total customer complaints received during the quarter under review,” it added.
Describing the metering gap in the power sector as a key challenge, the regulator said out of the 8,881,443 registered electricity customers, only 3,811,729 (42.92%) had been metered as at the end of Q2 2019.
It said, “Thus, 57.08% of registered customers are still on estimated billing which has contributed to customer apathy towards payment for electricity. In comparison to the first quarter, the number of registered and metered customers increased by 0.45% and 0.46% respectively.”
“The increase in registered customer population is due to the ongoing customer enumeration exercise by Discos through which illegal consumers of electricity were brought onto the Discos’ billing platform. Similarly, the increase in metered customers is largely attributed to the gradual roll-out of meters under the Meter Assets Provider scheme.”
NERC said it was monitoring the deployment of meters in compliance with the provisions of the MAP Regulations.
The MAP Regulations was issued by the commission in March 2018 with the aim to fast-track the roll-out of meters through the engagement of third-party investors for the financing, procurement, supply, installation and maintenance of electricity meters.
According to NERC, the financial viability of the Nigerian electricity supply industry is still a major challenge threatening its sustainability.
It said, “The liquidity challenge is partly due to the non-implementation of cost-reflective tariffs, high technical and commercial losses exacerbated by energy theft and consumers’ apathy to payments under the widely prevailing practice of estimated billing.”
“The severity of the liquidity challenge in NESI was reflected in the less than 50 per cent settlement rate of the energy invoice issued by the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc and Market Operator to each of the Discos as well as the non-payment by the special and international customers.”