By Adah Abah,
Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has faulted reports alleging that it has been shortchanging its customers insisting that its operations are done in manners that ensure customers get value for their money.
There were reports in the media alleging that the company has been skewing the estimated billing methodology to defraud customers that have no meters.
But fielding questions from our correspondent, AEDC Head of Public Relations & Media, Ahmed Shekarau said allegations that the company shortchange its customers were sheer falsehood.
Shekarau said that though the company is compelled to bill some of its customers through estimation because majority of them had no meters at takeover in November 2013, the estimated billing is done through a methodology designed and approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
“I wish to also assure our customers that since takeover, we have not billed them beyond 80% of the electricity supplied to us by the Market Operator.
“For instance, from January to December, 2015, we received 3578Gwh of electricity but the energy billed within the same period is 2865Gwh, thereby showing a billing efficiency of 80%.
“In 2016, AEDC received 3229Gwh of energy and only billed for 2511Gwh, thus showing a billing efficiency of 78%. Also, from January to April this year, we received 1095Gwh and billed for 846.7Gwh, thereby showing 77% billing efficiency”, he said, stressing that “going by these statistics, majority of our customers are under-billed” he added.
Shekarau explained, however, that it is not impossible possible to find that periodically, some customers may be overbilled because estimated billing is not an exact science, and thus not perfect.
“The methodology is based on broad assumptions that are applied on a cluster of customers, and although they may be accurate for most customers, there is possibility of some margins of error which could result in under-billing or overbilling”.
“This is why we have always encouraged our customers, including writing on our bills that wherever they feel they are overbilled they should come forward and complain to us. Whenever such complaints are brought to our attention we always try our best to resolve them to our customers’ satisfaction”, he said.
Speaking on the company’s efforts to provide meters to its customers, Shekarau said “we recognize the need to provide all our customers with meters, which for us too enables us to reduce the collection losses we incur as a company”.
Continuing, he “the facts about the losses attributed to estimated billing can be verified through our audited accounts for the last three years which were approved by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria. Furthermore, NERC conducts periodic oversight inspections called ‘Open Book’ during which these facts are made bare to it”.
On AEDC’s efforts to provide meters to its customers, Shekarau said, “despite facing huge liquidity challenges which adversely affected the entire power sector due to non-cost reflective tariff, AEDC has been able to launch its mass metering programme in December last year”, adding that “so far, we have installed over 88,000 meters for our customers and have got delivery of 30,000 more meters which we are installing, just as we are currently in the process of procuring additional 60,000 meters tocomplement our planned mass metering of at least 100,000 customers every year over a period of five years, free of charge”.
He then assured AEDC customers who do not have meters to know thatwith time, all of them will be metered, and urged them to disregard the rash of media reports suggesting that the company shortchanges its customers.