Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The government of Benue State has approached the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to grant it licence to build a 10 megawatts (MW) gas-fired embedded generation power plant.
The Governor of the State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, during a courtesy visit to the acting Chairman of NERC, Dr. Anthony Akah on Tuesday in Abuja, said the power plant will be built in partnership with a private investor, Contec Global.
He stated that the plant will cost an estimated at $18 million and would be dedicated to industrial layouts in the state to enable it grow its economy.
The Project Coordinator, Mr. Shashi Mozumder, also said that the company was already working towards meeting some of the requirements for the award of certificate of occupancy for the project site.
He explained that the land was large enough to accommodate future expansion, and that the power plant will comprise three units of General Electric 3.4MW turbines to be fuelled by gas transported with trucks from oil fields some 300 kilometres away from the project site.
Akah, in response to Ortom request for support, said NERC was ready to assist governors who intend to invest in the power sector to improve the volume of power available to Nigerians.
He hinted NERC plans to have a meeting with the 36 state governors in the country on the investment opportunities in the sector, adding that Ortom and his other colleagues should take interest in the ongoing consultations on mini-grid regulation which they could explore to provide electricity to areas in their states that are not connected to the grid or under served.
“There is regulatory guarantee on your investments. We will get some of our staff to work with your team and guide you through the technical and other requirement for the issuance of a licence,” said Akah.
He noted that other areas of concern to the Commission was the high incidence of violation of right of ways and accompanying construction and trading activities under transmission lines (high tension wires) that have led to many accidents in the power sector.
According to him, “Each time we have accident in the sector we feel we have lost one of our own. Most of these accidents are preventable and we hope we can work with state governments on how we can reduce accidents to the barest minimum.”
He equally asked for the state’s assistance with the payment of ministries, department and agencies debt to the power sector, which he said was suffocating investors in the power sector, a development Ortom said his state was not guilty of.