The Seventh monthly meeting of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, and Power Sector Operators rose in Benin on Monday with the Minister announcing positive developments in the nation’s quest towards achieving incremental power.
Fashola, who chaired the meeting at the Benin Transmission Station, Edo State, listed the positive developments to include the recent initialling of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) to provide solar power from no less than twelve companies which, according to him, should add almost 1000MW after implementation in coming years.
In the report contained in a 10-point communiqué presented after the meeting, the Minister, who presided over the Meeting attended by operators at the highest executive management levels, said the formal agreements would soon be signed, noting that construction of the Azura power plant was on schedule and if completed, would add 450Megawatts to the National Grid.In line with this development, the meeting acknowledged the efforts of the hosts, Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), in making improvements to their network, including connecting previously disconnected areas, stringing an additional 472km of lines as well as metering more than 100,000 new households.
The Meeting also received reports from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on operators’ performance, which after authentication and verification would be released to the public. However, the Meeting reiterated the need for the Distribution Companies (DisCos) to intensify efforts to complete DisCo financed metering while winding down the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Initiative (CAPMI) scheme under which customers pay for meters.
This, according to the meeting, was to ensure that customers did not unnecessarily bear the cost of installing meters even as it also noted that consumers needed to be protected from estimated billing, through DisCos completing metering according to their submitted plans.
The meeting ascribed the delay in the completion of the critical Calabar – Ikot-Ekpene transmission line and other projects in the South East to unresolved local community issues especially in Itu Local Government saying it was “because of shrines” which were currently being aggressively addressed by the Niger Delta Power Holding Community (NDPHC).
Noting with regret an electrical accident in Lugbe area of the Federal Capital Territory which resulted in injuries and loss of lives, the Meeting sympathised with the affected communities and called for a full investigation into the accident by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).
For individual operator’s reports, the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (Ikeja DisCo) noted that it had conducted a review of its transformers as well as rehabilitated and energized about twenty transformers which should result in improved service in its coverage area.
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) noted that following decisions arising from the last meeting in Kano, repairs to the Okpai-Onitsha line have been completed and power has been restored to Maiduguri. The company has also commenced restoration of transformers to Rimin-Zakara in Kano State to be completed in 2017.
Also discussing ongoing projects to support distribution in Benin DisCo’s coverage area; TCN listed a substation in Akure which it said was now 80 per cent complete, the completion of a substation in Ughelli, currently being inspected by Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) and the completion of projects in Ihovbor, Okada, Irrua and Oghara to enhance the transmission of power to Benin DisCo.
On its part, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) acknowledged current gas constraints to the power sector and assured that it is taking steps to improve gas supply to power plants, including restoring previous supply levels by completing repairs to vandalized pipelines in September 2016.
The Corporation also discussed new supply additions from alternative sources as well as improving the readiness of power plants to receive gas which should improve power supply in the country.
The Monthly meeting, which is in furtherance of identifying, discussing and finding practical solutions to issues facing the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry, had in attendance Managing Directors and CEOs of Generating Companies (GenCos), Distribution Companies (DisCos), and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Also in attendance were various government agencies such as the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET), the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) which are responsible for the regulation and development of the electricity industry.