By Thompson ABISOLA
The Federal Government said it has taken advantage of the new Meter Asset Provider (MAP) regulations to give a grant of N37billion to a private sector operator to supply meters to interested Distribution Companies (DisCos).
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, disclosed this at the 28th monthly meeting of power stakeholders in Kaduna.
The meeting, hosted by Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company at the Mando transmission substation, had in attendance representatives of government power agencies and private operators across the value chain of Generation, Transmission and Distribution.
The minister, who did not mention the name of the company, said the Federal government provided the fund based on the demand for meters, given the increasing power generation, transmission and distribution in the country.
He said: “As power supply continues to increase in Generation, Transmission and Distribution, the demand for meters will increase because more power supply and consumption will likely result in increased bills.
“Estimated billings in these circumstances will become a major cause of distrust and conflict between consumers and DisCos, and meters are the easiest way to build the bridge of trust.
“On the Executive side of government, we are responding by taking advantage of the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) regulations to deploy a fund of N37 billion toward supplying meters through private sector.
“I urge all DisCos who have not taken advantage of this opportunity to quickly do so, or make their own funding arrangements to contract their own meter providers to supply and install meters.
“I know that YolaDisCo is talking to the meter asset provider for 400, 000 meters. I know that Abuja DisCo is also indicating interest for 250,000 meters.
“I know that other meter asset providers are also talking to various banks and funding organisations to see how they can get into this business and get licensed by NERC.”
He also said there was a clear intension of the legislative arm of government toward addressing the issue of meter in the sector.
The minister said it was important for all DisCos to respond by providing meters and quickly end estimated billing, which was subjective, discretionary, and prone to abuse.
He reiterated government’s commitment to better service delivery by improving infrastructure, as mandated by President MuhammaduBuhari.
Fashola who earlier commissioned a 60MVA transformer at the Zaria 132 KV substation to increase the transformer capacity from 140 MVA to 200 MVA said the transformer would improve service to customers of Kaduna DisCo.
He listed some of the areas to benefit from the new transformer to include Zaria City, SabonGari, Samaru, Giwa, Yakawada, Tudun Wada and Markafi.
He said the commissioning of another 2 X 60 MVA transformer at the 132 KV sub-station would improve the capacity of the substation from 190 MVA to 240 MVA.
This, he said, would further improve supply to areas like Kaduna township, Rigasa, Kakuri, Rigachukwu, Chikun, Sabon Tasha, among others.
The minister emphasised the need for operators across the value chain to make service delivery to customers their focus.
“I have used the opportunity of this meeting to focus the attention of GenCos, Transmission Company and DisCos on the need to pay more attention to service delivery, repairs and maintenance of equipment.
“My focus in this meeting will not be different; we are beginning a different weather season that will see more rainfall, thunderstorms, lightening and windstorms.
“All of these will affect regular supply one way or another; trees will fall and disrupt lines, poles and lines may be damaged, and service will be disrupted.In all these situations, we must prepare our staff to anticipate, plan, and respond,” said the minister.
According to him, it is very important for the operators to always notify their customers in the event of any disruption of service.
“Most importantly, we must inform the public about the problems and what we are doing to restore service whenever there are disruptions,” Fashola said.
Earlier, the Managing Director of Kaduna DisCo, MrGarubaHaruna, said the DisCo was recording a minimum of 10 hours to 15 hours supply to consumers in Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto states.
He also said some areas under its control were experiencing 24 hours of electricity supply.