Electricity: Minister laments blackout despite 65% subsidy, warns Discos

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Power distributors that reject electricity allocated to them by the Transmission Company of Nigeria shall be dealt with severely going forward, the Federal Government declared on Monday.



It also revealed that in the next three to six months, it would ramp up power generation and supply to between 6,000 and 6,500 megawatts.





The Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, who disclosed this in Abuja before commencing a meeting with heads of agencies under his ministry, also disclosed that the Federal Government was subsidising the electricity bills of consumers nationwide by about 65 per cent.


“I am holding this meeting with all the directors in the Ministry of Power and the CEOs of our agencies in order to address the lingering crisis in the power sector,” Adelabu stated



According to him, what the country is witnessing currently with respect to power supply is not acceptable, adding that “the situation is getting worse, and in the last two, three weeks the level of power supply to Nigerians has not been good enough.”

Commenting on the performances of power distribution companies, the minister stated that the Discos would be dealt with severely for power load rejection.

He said, “We must address the issues of distribution, and I’ve said before now that the non-performance of Discos in terms of epileptic power supply qualifies as a basis for the revocation of licence.

“Any Disco that is found wanting will be severely dealt with; I’ve had discussions with the chairman of NERC. Their (Discos) actions or inactions directly affect the performance of the sector, and we must take it seriously.



“If we ramp up generation to 6,000MW as planned in three to six months, and ramp up our infrastructure in transmission to get power to the Discos within the next couple of days, if the Discos are not picking this power, it amounts to nothing.



“So the refusal to take up and supply power by the Discos is a qualified basis for the revocation of licence. Therefore the Discos should not frustrate our efforts in generation and transmission.”



The minister said he had discussed with NERC to come up with adequate performance measurement standards for Discos, stressing that laggards should be fished out and sanctioned.



“We should not be toothless bulldogs, barking and barking without biting. We should bite, for by the time we sanction two, three Discos heavily, others will sit up, and it will serve as a deterrent to others that we mean business.



“Their actions and inactions are causing us damage as a country. So they must know that it is no longer business as usual. We should have performance information, for example, last week, a number of the Discos did not pick up the power provided by TCN, throwing a number of communities into darkness,” he stated.



Report stated that data from the Transmission Company of Nigeria showed that though some of the power firms received excess electricity load allocation during the period, most of them failed to utilise all the quantum of energy allocated to them by TCN.



Nigeria has 11 power distribution companies and they include Abuja, Benin, Eko, Enugu, Ibadan, Ikeja, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt and Yola Discos.



The report stated that on February 1, 2024, for instance, seven of the power distributors failed to utilise a total of 128.62MW of electricity, as the load rejection by the power firms lingered during the review period.


Adelabu declared that the rejection of electricity would no longer be allowed in the sector, stressing that “they must take up a minimum of 90 to 95 per cent of power supplied to their jurisdiction.”

Power generation


On the issue of power generation, the minister stated that “we’ve discussed the status of the debt in the sector, including the legacy debts to gas companies and the debts to generating companies.”



Adelabu said he was “confident that we are going to have some cash injections in terms of payments, and we are going to also work around the balance by giving out guaranteed debt instruments such as promissory notes to the Gencos and gas companies.”

The minister said he believes that this will ensure that the Gencos go back to production and improve generation output as soon as the government pays that money.



“We will ensure that we agree on payment milestones for these debts, because these outstanding debts to Gencos are also a major problem,” he stated.



Speaking on strategies to further improve power generation and stabilise output, the minister stated that the country’s average power generation and supply of 4,000MW to 4,500MW was no longer acceptable.



“So what we are doing now is to have an agreement to ramp up to a minimum of 6,000MW within the next three to six months. I know that the highest we’ve ever generated was 5,700MW about three years ago, specifically in November 2021.



“And this was also distributed, so if we could achieve 5,700MW at that time, I believe we still have the infrastructure to generate between 6,000MW and 6,500MW once there is stability in the supply of gas,” Adelabu stated.



According to him, once there is gas supply, “we want to ramp up generation to a minimum of 6,000MW; if possible, 6,500MW within the next three to six months. That is our plan.”



The minister also stated that since the Discos could take up 5,700MW about three years ago, they should be able to distribute 6,000MW or 6,500MW in the next three to six months.

He said discussions were ongoing on how to ensure stability in the supply of at least 6,000MW, adding that maintaining guaranteed capacity payments to Gencos was one of the ways to achieve this feat.



“As it is today, out of the 27 Gencos that we have, only about five of them have this kind of payment assurance for gas, I think Azura, Omotosho, Olorunsogo and Calabar, which is why the debt we are owing to these generating companies is that huge. And consequently, they are also owing the gas suppliers,” Adelabu stated.

Substation fire


The minister directed the Transmission Company of Nigeria to immediately investigate the course of the fire incident at the transmission substation in Kano State on Sunday.



“I am using this opportunity to instruct the management of TCN to immediately interrogate the immediate and remote courses of the fire incident in Kano transmission station, because we cannot afford this kind of incidents consistently.



“We had one in Benin-Kebbi just less than six months ago and now another one in Kano. I need an investigation into this, because ordinarily we should have our protective devices at these installations,” Adelabu stated.

Some transformers were burnt as a result of the massive fire outbreak at the Dan Agundi Substation in Kano on Sunday.



TCN, however, announced in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday that it had restored power supply to some of the areas taking power from the transformers affected by the fire incident in Kano.



“Full restoration for all areas is expected today, March 11, 2024,” the spokesperson of the company, Ndidi Mbah, stated.



She added, “Yesterday (Sunday), the electrical engineering team isolated the transformers impacted by the incident and reconfigured some cables to facilitate power supply to three of the feeders for Kano Disco customers, while work is ongoing to ensure full restoration to the rest of the feeders.



“This incident, involving two 60MVA power transformers at the Kano transmission substation, was triggered by a sudden spark from the electrical oil pumping machine used to pump oil back into one of the 60MVA power transformers which had just undergone maintenance in the substation.”



Mbah stated that despite TCN’s safety workers’ efforts to extinguish the fire using industrial extinguishers, the fire persisted, until it was contained through the collaborative efforts of the Kano fire service, TCN’s safety engineers and security personnel.



“As of yesterday, three feeders – Kurna, Buk, and one of the 15MVA power transformers – began receiving power supply from a 60MVA transformer, enabling Kano Disco to distribute power to some customers.



“The remaining four feeders, namely Zaria, Club, CBN, and the second 15MVA power transformer, will resume bulk power supply today, following repair works on a punctured cable initiated in the early hours of the morning.



“TCN has a redundancy of 100MVA transformer fully installed at the substation, which will undergo testing and energisation to mitigate any potential bulk supply shortfall to Kano Disco,” she said.



Meanwhile, the minister stated that the meeting would consider pushing for capital punishment for power consumers who bypass their meters and steal electricity, as well as for those who vandalise power assets.



He urged Nigerians to desist from such acts, stressing that they drag the sector backwards.



Meanwhile, no fewer than 15 communities in Kaduna State are currently experiencing power outages following a technical fault on the 33KV independent feeder.



The Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company disclosed this in a statement by its Head of Corporate Communication, Abdulazeez Abdullahi, on Monday.



Abdullahi listed the affected communities to include Kigo Road, Bonny Road, Keffi Road, Lokoja Road, Constitution Road, Bala Miller, Kabalan Doki, KASU, Tafawa Balewa Way, Degel, Costain and others.



While apologising to customers, the distribution company said normal supply would be restored as soon as the Transmission Company of Nigeria amends the fault.

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