What That Your PHCN Meter Can Do For You

By Obidike Peter

I heard my neighbour shout “they should have left us the way we were now”, as he whined about the rate at which his credit got finished a few days after the installation of the digital meters in my neighbourhood.

With the introduction of the new meters, the full import of the mantra “nwata na ata akara na ata ego ya” (I need help with this interpretation) came to the fore and it was no longer business as usual with respect to irresponsible use of the scarce resource. Except for anyone stealing power, who stands a chance to win that four hundred and fifty thousand naira fine when caught, everyone is now conscious of electric power usage.

Long gone are the days one will sit in the parlour and have one's air conditioner on, cooling an empty room and having no effect on one’s account or leaving the boiler permanently hot to heat and reheat one's precious hot water which is only needed to bath in the evenings or mornings.

No more wastage of our natural cooling rainy season resources as those who were used to running prolonged air-conditioning even during rain have suddenly realized that fresh air is even better, like some friends you may recall who turned vegetarians in school “maka ego abiabeghi” (because they had no money).

As a result of the change from analogue to digital that was rolled out in a batch leading to our not having electricity for a couple of days and for which I wrote that essay “PHCN, Nigeria and change management”, I had to do more work on the digital meters.

One needed the card to be activated to be able to buy credit but because of the crowd, it took time, so we could not buy and the default credit that came with the meters got exhausted. It was a PHCN official who pointed out that one could borrow only 5kw by typing £414£, but he only provided half the information by saying it could only be done once in a lifetime!

I almost got ashamed of myself when I stumbled upon my meter's manual the other day. I felt caught up in the saying that "if you want to hide anything from a black man,  just put it in writing!" As I began to read, I realized all the information I needed was in there. The borrowing code was there alright but was not for use once in a lifetime, rather it could be used any time after you have recharged to a positive balance.

The actual information reads “Emergency credit can be availed only once after disconnection due to zero credit. To avail it again MCU (measurement and control unit) must be recharged sufficiently to make the credit positive.” So every time you run out of credit you do not have to go without PHCN electric power until you recharge like I experienced the last time before I “saw the light”!

In fact, you can set alarms on the meter to notify you when you are running low on credit and even have a lower limit that will set off audible alarm in case your eyes missed it. The codes are all in the damn manual and you can check your own manual right now to discover the codes or go directly to www.peterobidike.com to find them if you have thrown away yours.

Another interesting thing the meter can do is tell you how much power you have used in the last 24hrs or in the last one month. I had earlier empirically estimated my daily usage to around 18kwh and this was confirmed by the code which showed I used 17.46 kwh when I tested the function.

The monthly code also got me to 435kwh which was around my estimate from my manual empirical experiment. The whole digital meter 'rubbished' my earlier readings of my analogue meter from which I had estimated I was using about 700 kwh per month and for which I had thought I was cheating PHCN since they relied on estimated billing while I had a meter they refused to read because they insisted it was not good.

It is quite interesting to see the whole lot you can get from this meter and any other new toy you may have purchased out there. One may not blame oneself too much if you lose out from these details given the so many manuals that come with every gadget.

You would wonder how many you would read and would rather rely on “here say”, or someone who has used same, to get going with your gadget. In any case I have read for both of us this time around, so you can get on with it and find out how much power you used in the last 24hrs.

What That Your PHCN Meter Can Do For You What That Your PHCN Meter Can Do For You Reviewed by Elora Akpotosevbe on November 12, 2017 Rating: 5

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