Electricity Restored after System Collapse

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• Finally, Geometrics, Enugu Disco end feud over Aba

Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The power generation from the Jebba Hydro power station which collapsed completely yesterday at exactly 12.58p.m and lasted for up to about three hours has been restored back to normalcy

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, diclosed this on Thisday in Abuja.
Fashola, who did not disclose the current generation level, however, stated in Abuja that the collapse was induced by a sudden shutdown of the three turbines at the Jebba Hydro power station.

He said the turbines were quickly restarted and power generation then began to rise.
Data from the country’s System Operator showed that around 12.58p.m. yesterday, there was absolutely no power available for distribution across the country.

The System Operator hourly records indicated that Nigeria produced no single megawatt of electricity and the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) got none.
The System Operator’s report indicated that the 11 Discos got zero electricity load allocation during the period of the collapse, meaning that that no part of Nigeria got power supply from the national grid.

Power supply, according to Disco sources, was however restored by 3p.m., and of the 450MW that was due to Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, for instance, only about 50MW was given to it when the situation improved.
Abuja Disco before the collapse got an allocation of 257.97MW. At that time the national grid had about 2,243.2MW to distribute to the Discos.

Meanwhile, after years of prolonged controversies from its failure to respect and enforce the terms in the ‘ring-fencing’ agreement it reached in 2005 with Geometrics Aba Power Plant for distribution of electricity generated from the plant to Aba and Ariaria metropolis in Abia State, the federal government has finally retraced its steps.

Government is now negotiating a settlement between parties in the dispute, Geometrics Aba Power and Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (Disco).

Fashola, said yesterday in Abuja when both parties in the dispute put pen to papers to formalise the agreements they reached after their reported six months long out-of-court negotiation, that commonsense had finally prevailed against the long periods of contest for rights.

In 2005, the government reportedly concessioned Aba and Araiaria as the only security for Geometric to invest in the independent power project instead of the normal sovereign guarantee.

The same government however abandoned the concession agreement when in 2013 it unbundled from defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Enugu Disco and sold it including the concessioned units to Interstates Electrics, this subsequently sparked up the dispute.

Fashola explained at the meeting that the new development was momentous for Nigeria’s power sector. He described the decision of both parties to settle the dispute which was foisted on them by government’s decision as a win-win for the people of Aba and Nigeria.

According to him, the negotiation was first brokered by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who then handed it over to the ministry of power to continue with.

He said apart from parties in the dispute, several individuals including former military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Louis Edozien played key roles in the negotiation and final outcome.

Fashola stated that with the formalisation of the negotiated agreement, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) would now be asked to amend the licences of both Geometrics and Enugu Disco to reflect the agreements that were reached.
THISDAY however learnt that parts of what was reached by both parties included Geometrics getting back the ring-fenced units, as well as Enugu Disco buying the excess power that would be generated by the gas-fired plant.

Former Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji and founder and former chairman of Diamond Bank, Mr. Pascal Dozie, led the team that signed the agreement on behalf of Geometrics, while former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, led that of Enugu Disco.

Fashola however said: “Commonsense will make more meaning to the people of Aba, it will make more meaning to the traders in Ariaria, it will make more meaning to our goal to produce more made in Nigeria goods because I know what is possible in that place. I used to shop there, I used to do business there and I know they make suites, they make good shoes and so they need power. That is commonsense and that is what you have achieved today.”

He further noted that: “Commonsense is also the realisation now that the electricity market is just beginning and many things will happen because there are many things that can happen that we have not even began. What has happened today is to show that within one Disco, there can be two players and that is a ground breaking event today. There are many more blessing and more hopefully.”

According to him: “With this now, investments of over $500 million can come in there (Aba and Ariaria) and feel safe, they can expect to see power delivered within a few months down the line. More importantly, you will see peace more than victory and I think this is the way to go.”

“I think these are some of the silver linings that we can see from our energy crisis. The power coming from Aba is defining because we do not have enough now,” he added.

In his remarks, Kayode said: “We thank you for your personal and official interest in resolving this intractable dispute between Interstate Electrics, owners of the Enugu Disco and Geometrics over Aba and Ariaria.

“I want to make it very clear that it has always been the intention on our side in EEDC to resolve this matter. It is just that we went to court but then we thought that it would make common sense to sit together with the support of government to resolve all issues between us.”

He further explained: “We have also laid the foundation for future partnerships because as soon as power begins to come out of the plant, we will take it for our own part of Enugu Disco and other parts of Nigeria.

“With the agreement we have signed, we are now positioned properly to deliver more power to the people of the east and the added advantage is that it has given the EEDC a charge to put on its thinking cap and expand its business opportunities in the east.”

Nnaji on his part noted that the parties eventually realised that it was better to sit and negotiate a resolution to the controversy than continuing with the court sessions. He added that the vice president had in his first meeting with them stated that he wanted the parties to adopt a different approach to resolving the issue.

“Today to us is historic in the sense that a sector that is supposed to be largely private sector driven has seen its major crisis resolved and it is wonderful that it is being resolved by the effort of the minister and this administration, and we thank you very much for the effort you have put to see this happen,” he said.

According to him: “Everybody had recognised that it was a mistake. We all went fighting in the court but sometimes even when you win in courts, you still have to find peace and that is what we have done here, we have achieved peace and we have achieved progress.”