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Plateau residents hail JEDC for suspending smart meter installation

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Residents of Plateau state at the weekend hailed the effort of the Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JEDC), over its decision to suspend the ongoing installation of smart meters.

The meters were earlier rejected by consumers following a protest which was consequently addressed by JEDC assuring residents that the smart meters were for the benefit of consumers since it addresses the issue of over billing and paying for energy not consumed.

However, consumers took a swift action and headed for the Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), alleging that the meters were a ploy to further extort money from customers.

NEMSA responded by embarking on an assessment tour in Jos, inspecting the said smart meters and reaching a conclusion that the meters did not pass through routine test to check its quality, and to ascertain whether they are suitable for use in Nigeria, and also to determine its accuracy of reading.

It therefore ordered that the company stop further installations until the meters are certified.

In reaction to the development, the managing director of JEDC, Alhaji Mohammed Modibbo, debunked NEMSA’s claims, emphasizing that the meters were duly tested and certified by the regulatory agency before they were distributed and installed for consumers.

He disagreed with the claim by NEMSA over the integrity of the smart meters the company has installed for costumers, reassuring that all its meters were tested and certified.

Modibbo presented copies of certificate of approval from NEMSA to the Journalists, saying that it is strongly unfair for NEMSA to come out to claim that JEDC meters are not certified after it issued certificate of approval to the company, adding that JEDC was ready to undergo re-certification of the entire smart meters at the company’s cost in order to clear all doubts and to gain back consumers trust and confidence.

“This time, we would go for the certification with representatives of the press, the state government, the community, the security agents, and all other stakeholders to NEMSA office in Kaduna, so that all the certification processes would be repeated in their presence; they will serve as witnesses to the re-certification process and to prove that the meters have met regulatory standard; and we would do all these at our own cost.”

“As a responsible company, we have agreed to suspend all installation of smart meters until the re-certification processes are completed”, adding that “we have over 3,000 smart meters with NEMSA currently going through certification,” he said.

However, representative of the aggrieved residents, in Jos who spoke to Daily Times on Monday, confirmed the suspension of the installation saying that, “the procedure for certification of any meter brought into Nigeria according to NEMSA is to first take the sample of the meter the company intends to import into Nigeria; NEMSA will check and approve when it meets the consumption rate of Nigeria, where it does, approval is given for the DISCO to import in large quantity.

“The distribution company is expected to take it back to NEMSA to certify and calibrate each meter and further (stamp) their seals on it before the DISCO goes ahead to install,” he said.

Some of the other complaints by the residents included outrageous billings of the consumers, indiscriminate estimate of bills without letting consumers know the parameters used, and poor response to consumers’ complaints.

However, the JEDC spokesperson, Elijah Friday, explained that the introduction of the new meter was as a result of persistent complaints by consumers over the estimated billing system, adding that the resistance to accept the new meter was because of the “sinister” motive of the consumers.

Mr. Friday rebuffed the allegation that the new smart meters were not certified and calibrated by NEMSA.

According to him, “the new meters were comprehensively certified and met standards and these meters were tested, completely tested; In short, when they came here, they said it was un-calibrated and I just laughed. If it had not been calibrated, then why are we mounting it?,” he added.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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