The frequency of system collapse in the nation’s power sector in recent times has resulted in prolonged blackout in many locations across the country.
Findings showed that between January 15 and January 19, 2017, the country recorded two cases of total system collapse and three partial ones.
Specifically, the total collapse of the power grid occurred on January 15 and 19, while on January 16 and 18, Nigeria’s electricity generation crashed to 108 megawatts and 49.2MW, respectively. The average electricity generation for Nigeria has always been around 3,500MW.
The daily industry operational report for January 19, 2017, which was obtained by our correspondent in Abuja, showed that a total system collapse occurred around 6pm that day.
It stated, “Total system collapse at approximately 1800 hours on January 19, 2017 – details pending. Alaoji NIPP is out of service due to gas constraints; condensate evacuation challenges limiting gas supply to Geregu, Sapele and Olorunsogo plants.”
Similarly, data from the industry further indicated a total collapse that occurred on January 15, after which seven power plants were restarted in order to fire up supply.
The operational report had stated, “Total system collapse occurred on 15th January, 2017; Ugwuaji/Makurdi 330kV line 1 (cct U1A) CB tripped at Ugwuaji transmission station on distance protection 3-Phases; the SOTF and trip relay operated.
“Poor generation, lack of units on spinning reserve/frequency response and lack of enough feeders on under frequency relay scheme were responsible for the collapse.”
The next day, seven plants were restarted and they included Transcorp, Sapele I and II, Afam VI, Omotosho I and II, Olorunsogo I, Geregu I, and Okpai.
Power consumers have continued to lament the sorry state of the industry as the development has led to prolonged blackout in various communities.
For instance, the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company on Thursday explained that the blackout at Magboro/Mowe/Ibafo communities of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in Ogun State was due to the limited supply of electricity allocated to the IBEDC.
The firm had said, “The IBEDC is a distribution company and we can only distribute the power that is delivered to us from the national grid. Any current power outage being experienced by these communities is as a result of the reduced power supply from the grid, which is not within our control.
“This is evident in the fact that the national grid has already experienced two system collapses within the first two weeks of this month. As we speak, power is still being supplied to Asese, Ibafo, Magboro, and environs on a daily basis. However, the quantum is dependent on our allocation, which has been extremely inadequate.”
Industry operators told our correspondent that aside from the issue of gas constraint to power plants, Nigeria’s electricity transmission network needed to be revamped.
They explained that many transmission infrastructural facilities were obsolete and could not take high electricity load from generation companies; neither could they transmit the power to distribution firms.
Although they noted that the government was working on the transmission network, they pointed out that gas constraint to thermal power turbines across the country was also a major limiting factor to electricity generation in Nigeria.
Late last year, the President, Nigeria Gas Association, Mr. Dada Thomas, told our correspondent that gas suppliers were owed over N100bn by power generation companies and that it was becoming difficult to supply gas to the firm’s due to their huge indebtedness.
The Executive Secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies, Dr. Joy Ogaji, had also stated that Gencos were also owed over N300bn by the electricity distribution companies.
On their part, the Association of Nigeria Electricity Distributors, an umbrella body for the Discos, also stated that its members were owed over N100bn by consumers.
ANEDs had earlier identified the military and government ministries, departments and agencies as their biggest debtors.
Operators had put the revenue shortfall in the sector at about N1tn and requested the Federal Government to intervene financially in order to avert a collapse of the entire power system.
This, however, was not heeded as the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, recently declared that the government would not provide any financial support to power firms.
He said the Federal Government had earlier provided N213bn as subsidy to operators in the sector and would not do that anymore.
“Subsidy appears in different forms. When I resumed in this sector, I was made to understand there was an existing CBN fund for the market. The CBN fund comes at a low interest rate; if that does not qualify as subsidy, then I don’t know what else qualifies,” Fashola had said.
Reacting to the development, a former President of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Dr. Samuel Nzekwe, told our correspondent that instead of listening to repeated complaints by the power firms, the government should review the privatisation of the sector.
He said, “For how long are we going to continue like this? If the companies cannot deliver, why not review the privatisation exercise? The National Assembly highlighted this issue recently when it stated that the power firms had failed Nigerians. They come with high estimated bills even when there is no power supply and still complain that people don’t pay electricity bills.
“I understand why the government doesn’t want to revisit the issue of privatisation; it is about how investors will see Nigeria. But are we going to continue like this? I think something needs to be done to salvage the situation and improve power supply to enhance industrialisation in Nigeria.”