The distribution of free meters under the National Mass Metering Programme of the Federal Government, dropped by 58 per cent in the first quarter of 2022.
Data sourced from the power market regulator showed that in the quarter under review, a total of 29,282 customers were metered under the NMMP, representing a 58 per cent decline from the 69,321 customers metered in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Power distribution companies reported a decline in customer metering through NMMP in the first quarter of last year compared with the fourth quarter of 2021.
The Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission attributed to drop in metering to the winding down of the NMMP Phase 1.
Abuja, Enugu, Ikeja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Yola Discos did not record any meter installation under the NMMP scheme in the first quarter of last year.
The number of meter installations through the NMMP phase 0 was 158,889 in Q1 2021; 308,016 in Q2 2021; 279,917 in Q3 2021; 70,676 in Q4 2021; and 20,016 in Q1 2022.
Phase two of the free metering scheme was meant to resume last August, with a target of distributiing four million meters. However, it did not take off due to allegations of fraud levied against some of the meter providers.
But the Special Adviser to the President on Infrastructure, Ahmad Zakari, during an interview last week, said the next phase would begin in the second quarter of the year, eight months after it was originally billed to resume.
Zakari added that 20 new metering firms had been licensed for the purpose of local meter production for the next phase.
On the resumption of the NMMP, the NERC said it was actively engaged with the Central Bank of Nigeria, World Bank and other relevant stakeholders to accelerate financial closure and funds disbursement.
Out of the 85,510 meters installed for end users in Q1 last year, 29,282 (34 per cent) were metered under the NMMP scheme, while 56,228 (66 per cent) customers were metered under the Meter Asset Provider intervention.
On a Disco-by-Disco basis, Ibadan Disco metered 30,404 customers in Q1 2022, representing a +122 per cent (+16,703) increment compared to the number of customers metered in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Similarly, Ikeja Disco reported 18,169 installations in Q1 2022, compared to 71 meter installations in Q4 2021.
In contrast, Jos, Benin, Abuja, Eko and Kano Discos recorded reductions of -65 per cent, -70 per cent, -74 per cent, -78.62 per cent, and -97 per cent respectively in their metering between Q4 2021 and Q1 2022.
The main reason Abuja, Benin, Kano, and Port Harcourt had significant reductions in meter installations in Q1 2022 compared to Q4 2021, according to NERC, was due to their early utilisation of their meter allocation under the NMMP.
As in Q4 2021, Yola Disco did not meter customers in Q1 2022 NERC said the huge metering gap for end-use customers was still a key challenge in the industry, as it was estimated that of the 12,542,581 registered energy customers as at March 2022, only 4,740,114 (38 per cent) had been metered.
A total of 85,510 meters were installed in Q1 2022 as compared to the 79,978 meters installed in Q4 2021.
At a macro level, quarterly meter installations had been reducing as a result of the winding down of the NMMP Phase 1.
By comparison, the net metering rate dropped from 45 per cent metering as at December 2021 to 38 per cent in March 2022. NERC said this was due to constant updating of Discos’ customer base information as a result of ongoing customer enumeration.
In Q1 2022 under the MAP intervention, a total of 56,228 meters were installed representing a 66 per cent (+45,943) increase in metering under MAP, compared to the 10,285 installations recorded in Q4 in 2021.
Ibadan Disco recorded the highest number of installations of 19,438, representing 34 per cent of the total number of customers metered under the MAP scheme in Q1 2022.
Benin, Jos, and Yola Discos did not record any installation under the MAP scheme in Q1 2022.
The NERC said it had continued to engage relevant stakeholders to ensure month-on-month increments in metering rate while instituting safeguards against overbilling of unmetered customers, by setting maximum limits to the amount of energy that might be billed to an unmetered customer during a period.