By Ejiofor Alike
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola yesterday unveiled federal government’s roadmap for boosting electricity generation through incremental power, saying that the government is looking at what the country could generate out of the existing power assets.
Delivering a public lecture in Lagos yesterday, the minister stated that the country has 26 power plants, with three powered by water in Jebba, Kainji and Shiroro, while the rest of the plants are powered by gas.
According to him, the country has 140 turbines with installed capacity of 12,341 megawatts, adding however that at the best of times, only about 78 turbines generate power, which had resulted in February 2, 2016 peak of 5,074 MW.
“The problems have been identified as either damaged, unmaintained or unserviced turbines in the hydro power plants, and in the cases of gas plants, it is largely non-availability of gas, coupled with lack of maintenance.”
Fashola said the Jebba Hydro power plant, which was commissioned in 1985 by President Muhammadu Buhari with six turbines to provide 540MW of power, were to be overhauled once every 5-6 years but this was never done for 28 years, until it was handed over in 2013, in the aftermath of the privatisation.
According to him, the first overhaul has now been completed and more will be undertaken and described this effort as incremental power.
Fashola, whose lecture was on ‘Nigeria’s Electricity Challenge: A Roadmap for Change,’ also noted that in a report recently submitted to his office by the concessionaire of Jebba and Kainji, the total available capacity of the two plants is 482 MW and 340 MW respectively totaling 822 MW.
He described the plan by the investors to boost the generation to 1338 MW as incremental power.
The minister further stated that when the Egbin Power plant in Ikorodu, which was delivered in 1985 during the tenure of President Babangida had six turbines with total capacity of 1,320 MW but when it was handed over in 2013, it had only two functional turbines of 400MW generating capacity.
“I was at the plant in December 2015, to switch on Turbine 6, which means all the six turbines have been restored. This is incremental power. But these are just examples of the maintenance and technical challenges we grapple with daily in the government from the President, to the Vice-President, and the Ministry which seek to manage the men and women. Let me share with you some of the human and administrative challenges, relating to incremental power,” he explained.
Fashola recalled what he called the announcement of an alleged “commissioning” of a power plant in Edo State by the last administration during the election campaign.
“This was the Azura power project meant to deliver 450 Megawatts. In reality, what took place was only the turning of the sod. The main activity, which were government securities and guarantees to enable the financing of the project were never issued. This was delayed for about a year. It was the Buhari administration that prioritised this, resolved it, and work has now started with 422 workers on site and estimated completion date of December 2018. This is the road to incremental power,” he added.
He also recalled the Aba Power plant initiated by Prof. Barth Nnaji to generate140 MW and ring fence Aba for dedicated power, long before he was ever appointed minister.
According to Fashola, the former minister had an agreement given to him by the federal government, which assured him that the plant would never be sold in the event of privatisation.
He revealed that the same government later made another agreement, ignoring the original one, and sold Enugu Disco to a new owner, which included Aba Power.
The minister noted that none of the two parties should be blamed as both of them had legitimate contracts, which were conflicting and issued by the same government.
“Instead of spending their energy and resources completing the power plants and delivering electricity, they were forced to spend their resources and energy seeking to untie themselves from the problems created by government since 2013. This government has waded into the matter, and, through the Vice President, directed our ministry to facilitate reconciliation, and with the cooperation of the parties, their sense of patriotism, we got the parties out-of-court in a settlement three years after.
“We are now formalising their papers so that they can operate independently and collaborate to supply power to Aba and Enugu Distribution that covers most of the East instead of fighting in court. Solving the problems of yesterday is the road to incremental power,” Fashola explained.
He also disclosed that the Zungeru Power Plant, meant to deliver 700 MW in Niger state, was held up in court for several years.
According to him, “although the project is now three years behind, the dispute has been resolved, parties are out of court, over 800 workers are back on site and this should deliver incremental power”.