By Chineme Okafor
Nigeria and the United States Governments are working together to advance private-sector-led investment in the formers gas-fired electricity generation sub-sector.
Accordingly, relevant agencies of both countries in the power sector have been involved in ways to engineer private investment in the sector via attractive and sustainable investment models.
The Project Manager in charge of Energy and Climate Change at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Imeh Okon, said at a workshop organised for power sector officials on enhancing natural gas-fired electricity generation investment by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Lagos that such efforts were initiated with consideration to the strategic importance of thermal power generation to Nigeria.
Okon who explained the involvement of the US government, said: “We are trying to assist the government of Nigeria achieve its goal of electricity generation. We think that because we have bilateral relationship with the country, the only way out is to assist them to increase power so that the economy can grow.
“We all know that without electricity, most of the sectors are suffering and they are not growing and the poverty rate is also increasing. With electricity, we believe that every Nigeria will have the opportunity and capacity to grow and be able to meet their economic needs.”
Also, the Executive Director, Organisation of Midwest Independent System Operator, Inc. (MISO), William Smith, who was part of the team of experts from the US at the workshop, noted that Nigeria’s pricing of her natural gas needed to reflect some form of standard commercial frameworks to attract and improve investment in her thermal plants.
Smith explained that his team was bringing the experience of the United States in thermal power generation to assist in developing that of Nigeria.
He said: “We are bringing the US gas-fired plants generation experience and years of regulatory experience to discuss with the NERC specialists and our counterparts as they look at ways of increasing the amount of gas-generation that could be installed in Nigeria and the gas facilities that are necessary to deliver that gas to the plant. That is what we have been discussing.
“What we have been talking about is how you build the pricing structure within the natural gas system at the production point, at the processing, at the pipeline stages, for delivery distribution system and all of those, maybe needed for some generators. But then, the development of increased infrastructure to use the natural gas for commercial purposes such as generation of electricity and potentially other uses can share the same facilities. We are trying to stimulate that investment. That is what we are helping our colleagues explore how to do.”
Assistant Manager, Market Competition and Rates at NERC, Emeka Onyegbule, stressed that the workshop was part of a series of capacity-building partnership between NERC, the National Association of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners (NARUC) of US and USAID, adding that this year’s partnership has an extension of a workshop on gas to power in the light of lingering gas-to power issues in the country.