Will elec­tric­ity sup­ply im­prove as ‘In­terim Rule’ be­gins?

Daily Trust - - ELECTRICITY - By Si­mon Echewo­fun Sun­day

This coun­try has con­tin­ued to ex­pe­ri­ence epilep­tic power sup­ply de­spite the pri­vati­sa­tion of the power sec­tor.

The new own­ers of the pri­va­tised util­i­ties for­merly be­long­ing to the Power Hold­ing Com­pany of Nigeria (PHCN) have not only failed to live up to their prom­ises to bet­ter power sup­ply, but now re­sort to mak­ing light ex­cuses to ex­plain their short­com­ings.

The new own­ers, dur­ing the bid­ding ex­er­cise for the five Gen­cos and cur­rently, 10 Dis­cos, had pledged to re­duce tech­ni­cal losses and max­imise their ser­vice ca­pac­ity

The Dis­tri­bu­tion com­pa­nies (Dis­cos), Gen­er­a­tion com­pa­nies (Gen­cos) and the Trans­mis­sion Com­pany of Nigeria (TCN) have also in the process of mak­ing their sep­a­rate ex­cuses, en­gaged them­selves in some kind of blame games that con­trib­uted to wors­en­ing the sup­ply of power in the coun­try.

But, if truth be told, the Nige­rian elec­tric­ity con­sumer is not will­ing to know the tech­ni­cal­i­ties in­volved in the power sup­ply process. All he wants is to have ‘light’ and con­tin­u­ously in as much as he pays his bills.

Power sup­ply tipped to over 4,000 megawatts (mw) in Fe­bru­ary this year, af­ter van­dalised gas in­fra­struc­ture were fixed by a joint ef­fort of the Federal Min­istry of Power and the Federal Min­istry of Petroleum Re­sources.

How­ever, it de­te­ri­o­rated faster than ex­pected be­cause of what govern­ment has de­scribed as gas in­fra­struc­ture ‘sab­o­tage’ yet again.

The ther­mal Gen­cos have re­duced their pro­duc­tion as they were worst hit by gas sup­ply con­straints. The hy­dro power com­pa­nies were not there to sal­vage the sit­u­a­tion as sec­tions of Kainji/ Jebba and Shi­roro hy­dro sta­tions are all un­der­go­ing turn­around main­te­nance, some­thing the govern­ment has never done since the in­cep­tion of hy­dro­elec­tric­ity in Nigeria decades ago.

Al­though power gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity has now reached 3,600mw, im­prove­ment is yet to be no­ticed in most of the Dis­cos ser­vice ar­eas.

It would be re­called that the gen­er­a­tion com­pa­nies were man­dated to put up in­vest­ments that would in­crease their ca­pac­ity to a ver­i­ta­ble level within the next five years while the Dis­cos were urged to also make cru­cial in­vest­ment, es­pe­cially in con­sumer me­ter­ing and in­fras­truc­tural ex­pan­sion.

Sadly, three months have gone by since the hand­ing over of the as­sets on Novem­ber 1st 2013 and none of these com­pa­nies have shown any tan­gi­ble im­prove­ment in its ser­vice area. Con­sumers have con­tin­ued their dis­tress call over power out­age, crazy billing, none me­ter­ing among oth­ers. More so, this has been crowned with dis­en­gage­ment of elec­tric­ity staff with im­pend­ing mas­sive dis­en­gage­ments this month end.

The Nige­rian Elec­tric­ity Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion (NERC) serves as the um­pire in the elec­tric­ity sec­tor and sad­dened by the present con­di­tion, it wrote to all the Dis­cos re­cently, re­mind­ing them of the need for in­fras­truc­tural in­vest­ments and ser­vice im­prove­ment. The Com­mis­sion’s chair­man, Dr Sam Amadi, warned that no Disco should talk of tar­iff in­crease in the face of poor ser­vice in the cov­er­age ar­eas.

Dur­ing a monthly meet­ing with the new own­ers which held last Wed­nes­day, Amadi an­nounced that the trial pe­riod for the new own­ers has ended and govern­ment has di­rected that the In­terim Rule (IR) should take off im­me­di­ately.

He said: “We have done con­sul­ta­tions on the In­terim Rules (IR) to in­crease the amount of liq­uid­ity in the sys­tem be­fore the Tran­si­tional Elec­tric­ity Mar­ket is de­clared. Yes­ter­day, we had the fi­nal con­sul­ta­tion on it, and we have just an­nounced to the CEOs that the In­terim Rules will come into ef­fect by to­mor­row or af­ter the hol­i­days when the Com­mis­sion will meet to sign the in­terim rules.”

While he ex­plained the need for im­ple­ment­ing the rule, Amadi stated that the key things about the in­terim rule is that it raises the bar at the thresh­old of re­mit­tance and the Dis­cos should remit more money to the mar­ket to pay the Gen­cos and ser­vices un­til we get to 100 per­cent per­for­mance.

Govern­ment had said it is work­ing on im­prov­ing gas-topower with the adop­tion of a new gas tech­nol­ogy to cur­tail gas sup­ply con­straints to the gas-fired Gen­cos.

Amadi said: “We got a tech­nol­ogy based so­lu­tion from a World Bank con­sul­tant show­ing us how we can use com­pressed gas, take, and through some tech­nol­ogy re-gasify it in the power plants. The at­trac­tion is that it would avoid the use of gas pipe­lines and all the as­so­ci­ated risks of van­dal­ism and all that.

“Govern­ment is pur­chas­ing more gas, pos­si­bly tak­ing some gas from ex­port mar­ket to do­mes­tic mar­ket, and fast track­ing work on gas in­fra­struc­ture. All these are part of the ini­tia­tive.”

He noted that the Gen­cos would take up the idea with a con­sul­tant firm, to en­sure that there is more gas, es­pe­cially for em­bed­ded gen­er­a­tion so that the scarcity could be dealt with and Dis­cos would be en­abled to pro­cure em­bed­ded power at ease and faster.

As the In­terim Rule takes-off in the Nige­rian Elec­tric­ity Sup­ply In­dus­try (NESI), it is ex­pected that much of the lapses in power sup­ply, in­clud­ing crazy billings would be ad­dressed.

Ex­perts say it would be the time for govern­ment to get it right, warn­ing that fail­ure will af­fect the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Power Sec­tor Road Map.

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