Govt issues guidelines for power firms

Kampala. The Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) has crafted a set of rules to guide electricity distribution companies to install prepaid meters.Mr John Julius Wandera, the government agency’s principal communication officer, said the guidelines also spell out the rights and obligations of the electricity users.

“Now that we are aising electricity distribution licensees to shift [from post-paid] to prepayment metering, we have deemed it right to come up with guidelines,” Mr Wandera told the Daily Monitor during an interview in Kampala on Wednesday.

ERA is supposed regulate the power sector in the country.According to the guidelines, although the government wants all power consumers to be on a prepaid system, they must not be forced to switch.Prepayment is meant to ensure electricity users, especially domestic ones, do not steal electricity.

TermsThe guidelines also provide that a user, who has been on prepayment, could ask the distribution company to switch them from prepaid to post-paid.The guidelines come against a backdrop of plans by the country’s major electricity distribution company, Umeme, to switch 100,000 of its 574,000 customers from post-paid to prepaid this year. The rest would be catered for by 2018.

Umeme’s head of communication, Mr Henry Rugamba, on Monday said: “If we do not have guidelines, we would be in a chaotic situation.”He, however, added that the government has not updated the Grid Code. “One part suggests post-paid whereas another suggests both post-paid and prepaid,” Mr Rugamba said.

He also said they would not force anybody to switch until the company has the backing of the law.

DoubtsMs Joan Kyokutamba, coordinator of the Uganda Consumers Protection Association, said: “I have not yet seen the guidelines. But there are many concerns about the prepayment meters. Some consumers think they are not accurate. Maybe these guidelines have come to address our concerns.”

Affected. Other electricity distribution companies that will be impacted on by the guidelines are Ferdsult, Kilembe Investments Ltd, Pader Abim Community Multipurpose Electricity Cooperative Society and the Bundibugyo Electricity Cooperative Society, which serve about 10,000 electricity users.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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