DisCos cannot increase tariff rates on their own – EMRC 

Ikhide Asuelimen, an Energy Consultant at Energy Markets Rates and Consultants Limited (EMRC) has said that distribution companies (DisCos) cannot increase tariff rates on their own.

He said this during a podcast episode aired by the company this week.

He made the statement while addressing the belief that meters run fast after being manipulated by distribution companies (DisCos).  

According to Asuelimen, distribution companies (DisCos) do not exert a direct influence on the electricity consumption of customers. Therefore, entertaining the notion that they manipulate consumption rates is incorrect.  

When customers observe a reduction in the number of units they have purchased, it is typically a result of an increase in the tariff rate.

Importantly, distribution companies (DisCos) do not possess the authority to unilaterally raise tariffs.

All adjustments to tariff rates are carried out in accordance with the regulations and approvals of the regulatory body overseeing the electricity sector. 

Considering a switch from three to single phase meters? 

Asuelimen also said that transitioning from a three-phase meter to a single-phase meter in an endeavour to reduce energy consumption via the meter is an inaccurate approach.

This is because when a customer’s load is substantial, a corresponding increase in consumption is to be expected.  

If a customer using a three-phase meter restricts their load for approximately a week, they will observe a decrease in consumption.

Therefore, the rate of consumption registered by the customer’s meter is intricately linked to the magnitude of their electricity load, and it is not dictated by whether they have a single-phase or three-phase meter. 

Difference between three-phased meters and single-phased meters 

Power distribution typically involves three phases, distinguished by colour coding: red, yellow, and blue. Maintaining a stable electricity network necessitates a careful balance of the load on each of these phases.  

Achieving this balance entails connecting electrical appliances to the red, yellow, and blue phases in a manner that distributes the load equally or as close to equal as possible.

In the realm of energy consumption measurement, both single-phase and three-phase meters serve essentially the same purpose.  

However, a single-phase meter gauges electricity consumption in the context of a single-phase connection. In installations where the meter is placed, power is sourced from just one of the three phases in the distribution network.  

Thus, if a customer steps outside their residence, they will observe four wires: three phases and a neutral wire. A single-phase customer is linked to one of these phases and a neutral wire, hence they would typically observe two wires entering their premises. 

Given that the customer draws power from just one phase, a single-phase meter is appropriate to accurately measure the energy consumed from that specific phase of the network.

Conversely, if a customer draws power from all three phases of the distribution network, a three-phase meter is necessary. This ensures the meter captures the energy consumed across all three phases. 

The pivotal factor determining the choice between a single or three-phase meter is the customer’s load profile. Each meter is designed to handle a specific maximum current flow without sustaining damage.  

Consequently, when a customer’s demand is higher due to a substantial load on their premises, a single-phase meter lacks the requisite capacity to endure this load. In such scenarios, if a single-phase meter is installed, it will likely burn out due to the excessive load surpassing the meter’s capacity. 

Understanding how electricity meters work 

During the podcast episode, Asuelimen said that the primary function of an electricity meter is to gauge power consumption within a specific location.

This is achieved by analyzing two critical parameters in the distribution network: voltage and current. 

Voltage is predominantly determined by the state of the grid at any given time, and individual customers have limited direct control over it.

However, customers exert greater influence over the current flowing through their meter by regulating the electrical load they connect to it.  

In essence, the more electrical appliances a customer utilizes, the higher the current drawn through their meter. Consequently, an increase in current translates to a rise in the customer’s energy consumption. 

In the context of prepaid meters, energy units earmarked for customer usage are preloaded.

As the customer connects electrical loads to the network, these preloaded energy units are gradually utilized.  

When the units are depleted and reach zero, the meter automatically disconnects from the electricity supply. Subsequently, the customer must initiate a vending process to replenish the units and restore their electricity supply. 

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