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NERC: No electricity customer should pay more than metered neigbours

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The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) says the Federal Government introduced the capping in the estimated billing for unmetered customers to ensure uniformity with their metered counterparts.

Commissioner in charge of Legal, Licensing and Compliance, Mr Dafe Akpeneye, said this at a web conference organised by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), adding that the development was temporary because no customer should pay more than their metered neighbours in the same vicinity and under a similar classification.

He also said that since the Discos failed in their responsibility to meter customers, the only option was to resort to estimation.

He said, “The issue of estimated billing came about as a bridge to manage the interests of the utilities’ interest of providing power and the customers’ interest of paying for power.

“Under an ideal situation, the meter is an assurance that the utility should get paid for what it delivers and the customer pays for what he consumes. But we have found ourselves in a situation whereby when the assets were handed over, metering wasn’t a priority when the utilities were owned by the Federal Government.

“And if you look at the Nigerian demographics, with the way the population is expanding, rapid urbanisation with new connections coming to the grid, the metering of these customers has become a problem.

“One of the key requirements is for the Discos to bridge the metering gap because the problem we had to deal with was because of their inability to do that on time. We had to balance the fact that customers receive power without meter and devise a way to make sure customers have electricity without having a meter.

“Therefore, the estimated billing methodology was introduced . But that was supposed to be temporary, certain things were not done. So, estimated billing became the number one consumer complaint in the industry.”

The NERC stated that exiting the estimated billing regime is impossible for now, adding that since it is not practicable to meter everyone at once, the practice will continue for a while until the issues are resolved.

“Because we realised that meters can’t be rolled out for everyone, something had to be done to balance it out. Some measure of fair estimation had to be put in place.

“The commission developed the capping order. What this seeks to try to create is parity between metered customers and unmetered customers. So, we have someone who lives in a duplex in a certain part of town who is unmetered and we created a scenario whereby one who is unmetered does not pay more than the metered, so that they both pay almost the same thing,” he added.

In his intervention, the Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr Alex Okoh, said the privatisation of the power sector in Nigeria remains the most ambitious of its type in Africa.

According to him, though the sector is not where it should be because of lack of investments, it has improved since it was handed over to private individuals to manage.

He said, “South Africa has 4,904 kwh per capita while Nigeria has 300kwh per capita. Now for the biggest economy in Africa, that says a lot.

“This sort of challenges prompted the bold decision to reform the power sector. So, in 2005, ESPRA was enacted and essentially was geared towards breaking the monopoly of NEPA.

“It was also to make the sector attractive. That particular action led to the unbundling to Gencos, TCN and Discos. Prior to this , electricity was generally poor. We are talking 1,500mw across the value chain.

“Post-privatisation, we have seen significant improvement and impact of privatisation of the power sector. We are just 10 years.

“There are interventions that are currently going on to correct some of the shortcomings of the privatisation exercise. Let’s not also forget that the power sector privatisation in Nigeria is perhaps the biggest privatisation programme in the continent of Africa.

“Were we rather overambitious in this privatisation. I don’t think so. Could we have taken a modulated approach to it? Maybe. But I think the decision was bold to address the lack of investment in the sector.”

In his remarks, former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, said government must strive to draw private sector investment to ensure sustainable supply of power.

He stated that with the right environment, the Discos can conveniently pay for power, as was shown by Eko and a few others at a point, adding that the bulk trading arrangement should be jettisoned once the Discos become credit worthy.

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Tesla driverless car explodes after crashing into tree

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Two men have died after a Tesla vehicle, which was believed to be operating without anyone in the driver’s seat, crashed into a tree on Saturday night north of Houston, authorities said.

After the fire was extinguished, authorities located two occupants in the vehicle, with one in the front passenger seat and the other in the back seat of the Tesla

The accident came amid growing scrutiny over Tesla’s semi-automated driving system following recent accidents.

The US auto safety agency said in March it had opened 27 investigations into crashes of Tesla vehicles.

“There was no-one in the driver’s seat,” Sergeant Cinthya Umanzor of the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said.

The 2019 Tesla Model S was travelling at high speed when it failed to negotiate a curve and went off the road, crashing into a tree and bursting into flames, local television station KHOU-TV said.

Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in January that he expected huge profits from the company’s full self-driving software, saying he was “highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year”.

Experts say the self-driving technology must overcome safety and regulatory hurdles to achieve commercial success.

-Reuters

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We resisted governors’ pressure to borrow for March shortfall – Zainab Ahmed

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said the Federal Government rejection a suggestion by state governors to borrow from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to augment the N50 billion federation account allocation committee (FAAC) shortfall in March.

She stated this on Monday while featuring on the Good Morning Nigeria programme, a daily breakfast show on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

Recall that Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki had alleged that the FG printed N60 billion to support March federal allocation to states.

But the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, dismissed Obaseki’s claim describing it as “unfortunate and totally inappropriate.”

Ahmed said that whenever there was a reduction in federal allocation, the Federal Government would take money from some reserve accounts, adding however that in the case of March allocation which fell short by N50 billion, all state governments were asked to manage their resources.

“It is a difficult time, I can explain to you how difficult it is not just for the Federal Government but also for the states, we see increasing reduction in our FAAC revenue,” she said.

The minister also said, “In the month of March, we had a shortfall of FAAC that is almost about N50 billion and we did not have enough accrued in any of those accounts, the states to be honest wanted us to borrow from the Central Bank, but we resisted, we just told everybody to go back to live within what they had.

“So it was very surprising for us when we heard a sitting governor saying that the CBN had printed money for FAAC; that was very unfortunate because it is not true.”

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Mercedes-Benz stuns with another seven-seater crossover SUV

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A few days after Mercedes-Benz revealed what it calls the mother of all electric vehicles in the form of the sophisticated EQS luxury sedan, it has added another stunning product to the Mercedes-EQ family of cars, the EQB.

This is a seven-seater, crossover sport utility vehicle that is to the GLB-class what the EQA is to the GLA.

Car and Driver in a report quotes the premium German automaker as saying the EQB is based on the GLB crossover.

Mercedes-Benz EQ is a series of battery electric vehicles manufactured by Mercedes-Benz. The first model was previewed at the Paris Motor Show in 2016 with the Generation EQ concept vehicle.

The EQB will be launched first in China, where it debuts in a luxuriously equipped all-wheel-drive version with AMG Line styling.

Europe is to have it next in three versions: front- and all-wheel-drive models and a range-optimizing mid-level EQB.

The new vehicle will however not be released to the US market until next year.

While the sheet metal and glass are identical, the styling department under Gorden Wagener has cleaned up the exterior for a more contemporary and sophisticated look.

The front is graced by the trademark EQ headlight/fascia assembly, with a horizontal light bar stretching over the entire width.

This element is reflected on the tail end, which boasts a horizontal light strip as well.

There are EQ-specific colours and wheels, and there will be a choice of regular or AMG-Line front and rear bumpers.

The interior is carried over from the GLB as well, but it comes with EQ-exclusive color and trim options, including rose gold (pictured here), one of Wagener’s favorite colors.

Due to the battery packs in the floor, interior space suffers a bit: Daimler cautions that the third row will only work for people up to 5’5″ and the trunk shrinks considerably.

That said, the EQB is still a crossover SUV that offers more space than usual for its exterior dimensions.

The EQB was unveiled in China, and it will be launched there first as a fully loaded model with a standard AMG Line look, all-wheel drive, and two motors that make a combined 288 horsepower.

Europe will get both the EQB350 4Matic with around 268 horsepower and the front-wheel-drive EQB250 with 221 horsepower; there will also be a mid-level version designed as a long-range model. Both China and Europe will see the EQB at dealers within the 2021 calendar year.

The US will have to wait until 2022, and the company is mum about the possible powertrain options.

Car and Driver says, “What we can deduce from our experience with the EQA is that even the least powerful versions of the EQB will come in at around 4500 pounds, which we hope won’t translate into plodding, cumbersome handling characteristics, even if that would feel a bit less out of place in a people hauler like the EQB than in a compact hatch like the EQA.

“There will be no true AMG version, unlike on the EQS and the EQE. However, we’ll suspend judgment until we can drive it.”

 

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