Meter bypass may become a thing of the past in the four states under the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution company (PHED): Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, and Cross River.
This is as the new CEO, Benson Uwheru (PhD), has moved the revenue of the Disco from N4.3bn to N5.2bn in just his first month.
He revealed that technology is being deployed to tackle meter bypass through pinpoint technology that would pin the energy thief to his location. He said tech is the future of power industry. “So, we intend to deploy technology to fight vandalism and energy theft and meter by-pass.”
The new CEO told newsmen last Friday that he is combining all the measures including negotiation to achieve higher revenue.
Uwheru also called for liberation of the energy sector from subsidy so the sector could run freely and attract investors.
Speaking at the media interactive session, Uwheru who resumed on July 22, 2022, said the PHED is being repositioned by the FG with some of the unit heads coming from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He named the three pillars of transformation to mean to grow revenue and reduce loss; sustained growth; Standardisation (quality control); and people performance management.
He however admitted that problems were many but that the new management is determined to win.
On the crisis of estimated billing, he said FG is determined to end it and enthrone billing efficiency. He also hinted that workers salaries would soon be reviewed upward to meet industry standards. He said the wall has been broken and workers would be happier.
Answering questions, Uwheru said security is important to their success and that they had paid visits to security agencies and the police has created a unit headed by a deputy commissioner to tackle power theft issues.
He however said soft approaches were being adopted such as communicating and using pastors and other influencers to preach the new message.
He went on: “We want to light up the Niger Delta. We have metered 60 per cent of our customers. Our target is to first meter all customers on the network.
“We are in talks with financiers to procure meters. We want to meet another 20 per cent by December 2022. New customers must now start on meters.”
He admitted that tariff is a challenge. “The process is based on the value chain from the power generators through the transmission company to the Discos.”
He also said a law makes energy theft a crime. “So, notice before disconnecting is good because adequate notice is there. But, stealing energy is also a crime. We are giving a window of negotiation before we disconnect.”
He regretted that many see power as an entitled commodity. “We have N21Bn debt from one community that gets N400m bill every month but does not pay. Some 70,000 users steal energy.”
The new CEO requested all hands to be on deck to turn things around because everybody depends on power. He made it clear that PHED operates international standards on estimated billing and considers fairness. “We are not abandoning success factors and interventions. Former MD did well within the circumstances he found himself. PHED delivered 100 percent on FG meter phase zero.”