TCN, Gencos Messy War Dims Hope on Steady Power Supply

3D Electric powerlines over sunrise

By Akanimo Sampson

PROSPECTS for enduring electricity supply in Nigeria are not appearing very positive. With the current power situation in the country, the obvious implication is that poverty and unemployment will continue to bit harder except government determines to take the bull by the horn.

Electricity demand in Nigeria is estimated at 297,900MW by 2030, precisely 12 years from this year. To meet that target, investors in the sector are expected to pump in around $500 billion.

Already, power distribution companies in the country are claiming that they are facing low grid-energy supply from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and cannot meet their customers demand, allegedly leading to a huge gap between demand and supply of power.

In addition to the high aggregate technical commercial and collection (ATC&C) losses in their monthly operations, these losses are mostly contributed by non-maximum demand customers who constitute about 90% of customer population.

Precisely, the investment cost of Nigeria’s electricity demand is estimated at $ 484.62 billion, which means investing more than $4.3 billion every year for the next 12 years, a seeming tall dream given the current tug-of-war between the stakeholders in the country.

To make unemployment and mass poverty history, electricity is expected to play a very important role in the socio-economic and technological development of Nigeria. At the moment electricity demand in the country far outstrips the supply and the supply is epileptic in nature.

Nigeria is faced with acute electricity problems, which is hindering her development notwithstanding the availability of vast natural resources in the country. It is widely accepted that there is a strong correlation between socio-economic development and the availability of electricity.

Except a miracle happens, the end to epileptic power supply in Nigeria is not yet in sight with the TCN firing back and accusing most power generation companies (Gencos) of lying about the capacities of their plants so they can make fraudulent financial claims on capacity charges.

TCN made this worrisome claim known in a response to Gencos’ allegation that the TCN through its management of the grid code, stifle their efforts to load more power to the national grid. But TCN says the average power dispatch of the Gencos in April was about 78 per cent.

The General Manager, Public Affairs of TCN, Mrs. Ndidi Mbah, said the Gencos engage in fraudulent filing of their capacities to its National Control Centre (NCC) in Osogbo, the Osun State capital in Western Nigeria and that in many cases, the national load demand was higher than the generation capacities of the Gencos.

‘’The average dispatch for the power plants for April is about 78 per cent of actual available generation capacity which is much higher than the figure of less than 50 being claimed by the Gencos. A large number of power plants submit fraudulent generation capacities and not able to deliver when asked to do so by NCC.

‘’This is done in order for them to get paid for capacities they do not actually have. In many instances, the national demand during peak periods is far higher than actual available generation capacities of Gencos despite the fabulous capacities they declare’’, Mbah said.

She also explained reasons why the TCN has not procured spinning reserves as stated by the APGC, saying TCN has not procured spinning reserves yet because most power plants have not satisfactorily placed their units on frequency response as required by grid code.

According to her, ‘’as a transmission company, TCN can only dispatch what the distribution companies and eligible customers are willing to take. This is why load rejection by Discos especially during rainstorms is such a big problem that must be solved expeditiously’’, pointing out that the TCN will not compromise the national grid to satisfy the Gencos, adding that the Gencos’ allegation that its NCC officials bark order at them was unfounded.

NCC operates strictly in line with the grid code and merit order. Stability of the national grid is paramount.

Unfortunately many Gencos due to greed destabilize the grid through illegal practices in order to collect more money from NBET.

‘’They do so through false capacity declarations, unwillingness to put their generators on effective frequency response, delay in executing NCC dispatch instructions, intimidation and blackmail of NCC operatives. The allegation of rudeness and ‘military method’ by NCC staff is wholly unfounded and baseless as NCC operators are trained in communication skills’’.

Insisting that Gencos were often found guilty of attempts to destabilize the grid, Mbah said, ‘’the practice by Genco operators insisting to get clearance from their managing directors while the national grid is at the brink of collapsing is highly irresponsible, unpatriotic and a gross violation of the grid code.’’

The report also said the TCN has completed and energized three new transformers in Jos, Plateau State and Abeokuta, Ogun State, in line with its Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Program (TREP) which it said was anchored on the government’s policy on incremental power and that Dan Agundi 60MVA by 132/33kV power transformer in Kano State, which got burnt in December 2017 had been repaired and energized.

In the meantime, electricity consumers in Akwa Ibom State are being choked with outrageous bills. In Eket for instance, petty businesses and residents along Afaha Eket Road, get estimated billing as high as N15,000 monthly.

Most of the barber shops and beer drinking joints along that road hardly make up to N6, 000 a month. With frequent power outages, they literally squeeze out their blood to power their small generator sets.

Yet, the Programme Manager, Energy Efficiency of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Plc (PHED), Franklin Ajaegbu, says they have pioneered and developed energy efficiency programme, as a solution, to address the current business concerns of energy deficiencies, loss reduction and improvement in revenue collections, as well as enhancement in service delivery to their customers in Nigeria.

It seems, the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) has not been up to its task. ECN was established by Act No. 62 of 1979, as amended by Act No. 32 of 1988 and Act No. 19 of 1989, with the statutory mandate for the strategic planning and co-ordination of national policies in the field of energy in all its ramifications. By this mandate, the Commission is the apex government organ empowered to carry out overall energy sector planning and policy co-ordination.

As part of its contribution to the resolution of the problems of the electricity sector along the line of its mandate, the ECN has been collaborating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under an IAEA regional project titled “Sustainable Energy Development for Sub-Saharan Africa (RAF/0/016)”.

The project entails capacity building for energy planning and the determination of the actual energy demand and the strategies for supply for each participating country over a 30-year time horizon. The implementation of the project requires the establishment of a Working Team (WT) and a Country Study Team (CST) both of which include the major public and private stakeholders in the energy sector of the country.

The working team consists of technical experts that directly implement the project and reports to the CST, which serves as the steering committee for the project on a regular basis. Members of the WT were trained on the use of the IAEA models and have computed the Nigeria energy demand and supply projections covering the 2005-2030.

The project involves the use of the following IAEA Energy Modelling tools:

• Model for the Analysis of Energy Demand (MAED)

• Model for the Energy Supply Strategy Alternatives and their General Environmental Impact

(MESSAGE).

Meanwhile, electricity supply in Nigeria dates back to 1886 when two small generating sets were installed to serve the then Colony of Lagos. By an Act of Parliament in 1951, the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) was established and in 1962, the Niger Dams Authority (NDA) was also established for the development of Hydro Electric Power. However, a merger of the two was made in 1972 to form the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), which as a result of unbundling and the power reform process, was renamed Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in 2005.

The Nigerian power sector is controlled by state-owned PHCN, formerly known as NEPA. In March 2005, former President Olusegun Obasanjo signed the Power Sector Reform Bill into law, enabling private companies to participate in electricity generation, transmission, and distribution. By virtue of the power reform, government separated PHCN into 11 distribution firms, six generating companies, and a transmission company, all of which are privatised.

Several problems, including union opposition, delayed the privatisation, which was later rescheduled for 2006. In February 2005, the World Bank agreed to provide PHCN with $100 million to assist in its privatisation efforts. ENDS

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