Strong indications have emerged that the Federal Government has taken some initiatives to engage other sources of energy, following the shortcomings in the gas supply to power plants, to boost the nation’s electricity supply.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), while announcing positive developments in the nation’s quest towards achieving incremental power during the seventh monthly meeting of the stakeholders in the power sector, disclosed that the Federal Government had initiated Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with about 12 companies, who would generate about 1,000 megawatts from solar power.
Fashola said the formal agreements would soon be signed, noting that construction of the Azura power plant was on schedule and if completed, would add 450 megawatts to the National Grid.
The participants at the meeting, who were operators at the highest executive management levels, acknowledged the efforts of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) in making improvements to their network, including connecting previously disconnected areas, stringing an additional 472 kilometres 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.
The meeting reiterated the need for the electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) to intensify efforts to complete DISCOs financed metering, while winding down the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Initiative (CAPMI) scheme under, which customers would pay for meters.
This, according to the meeting, was to ensure that customers did not unnecessarily bear the cost of installing meters, pointing out 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).
The participants, while regretting the electrical accident in Lugbe area of the Federal Capital Territory, which resulted in injuries and loss of lives, 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 stated 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) disclosed that following decisions arising from the last meeting in Kano, repairs to the Okpai-Onitsha line had been completed and power had been restored to Maiduguri. The company has also commenced restoration of transformers to Rimin-Zakara in Kano State to be completed in 2017.
TCN, while discussing ongoing projects to support distribution in Benin Distribution Company’s coverage area, listed a substation in Akure, which was now 80 per cent completed, 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.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) admitted the current gas constraints to the power sector, assuring that the corporation had taken steps to improve gas supply to power plants, including restoring previous supply levels by completing repairs to vandalized pipelines in September 2016.
NNPC stated that there should be 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 TVN.
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.