Abuja, Nigeria --- (METERING.COM) --- March 13, 2013 - The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory commission (NERC) has been given the go ahead to a “pre-pay” scheme aimed to accelerate the deployment of electricity meters amongst consumers who are currently unmetered.

The so-called “credit advance payment for meter installation” (CAPMI) scheme will enable customers who are willing to do so, to advance money to their distribution companies to install meters. The costs are then refunded by way of monthly reductions on the fixed charge element of their electricity bills.

NERC has developed processes that ensure that the advance payments will be secure, and made in a transparent manner to dedicated bank accounts in selected banks, the organization said in a statement.

NERC has also developed guidelines for the procurement and installation of the meters by accredited vendors and installers, with local manufacturers of meters having priority over importers.

A survey by NERC last year found that almost 55 percent of electricity customers are not metered or don’t have a working meter. Now one of the top priorities of the Commission is to ensure that the huge number of unmetered customers is reduced as rapidly as possible, and within the shortest possible time.

“By doing so, the menace of ‘crazy billing’ and other commercial losses will be greatly curtailed,” the NERC statement said.

NERC is also concerned about the customers who have made payments for meters but not been supplied with them, and last month gave the distributors 45 days to supply these meters.

Since June 2012, customers have no longer been required to pay for their electricity meters, when their costs were incorporated in the fixed charge component of the bill. However, this failed to work as well as the Commission had expected, and nine months after the announcement, an unacceptable number of Nigerians still remain without meters, the statement said.

“This prompted NERC to act quickly in coming up with customer centered alternatives.”

The scheme has the blessing of Nigeria’s Presidential Action Committee on Power (PACP), which requested its immediate implementation. It will be in place until the distributors’ core investors take over, expected by the third quarter of 2013.

In the meantime, CAPMI will be subject to a rigorous consultation process, commencing with a meeting with the core investors of the privatized electricity distribution companies.