Power Operators Intensify Blame Game over Failure to Meet 5,465MW Target

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Stories by Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Operators in Nigeria’s electricity sector have continued to trade blames over the failure of the sector to meet the 5,465 megawatts (MW) power generation and distribution target set in the revised 2015 Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO).

While Nigeria’s highest ever generation figure was the 5,074MW achieved in February 2016, the country has so far in 2017 recorded 4,650MW as its peak power output level. Outputs have equally oscillated between 3,500MW and 4500MW majorly on account of low gas supplies, while the key players in the sector have continued to trade blames over the power woes.

THISDAY gathered that all the operators in the value chain – gas suppliers, generation companies (Gencos), transmission companies and distribution companies (Discos), including other service providers, have at various times blamed each other for the sector’s underperformance.

The latest of this was from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), both blaming the sector’s failing on the 11 Discos, which they accused of rejecting power, and consequently interrupting improvement in electricity generation.

Speaking recently at the 2017 edition of the Annual Olobiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum, the NNPC said Nigeria currently had enough gas to generate up to 4,800MW and 6,000MW by the second quarter of 2017, but that frequent load rejection by the Discos was stopping the Gencos from increasing their overall output.

“As we speak today, there is enough gas to generate about 4800MW and 6000MW by second quarter 2017 based on our gas supply plan, but the power sector is presently struggling to evacuate 4500MW power due to Discos’ incessant rejection of allocated load and transmission line constraints,” the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru said at the forum.

Days after Baru’s claim which the Discos roundly refuted, the TCN in a statement from its General Manager Public Affairs, Seun Olagunju in Abuja, also called out the Discos for failing to absorb optimal generation outputs from the Gencos.

Olagunju explained that the frequent failures of the Discos to completely absorb generated power dispatched to the grid had necessitated the introduction of new frequency control measures by the System Operator to keep the national grid under stable operational conditions.

“In general, electricity is not stored but is used as it is being generated. Therefore at any particular moment in time, there is a power flow balance equation that determines system frequency, with the target of operating at 50HZ frequency.

“It is the duty of the System Operator to monitor the power flow on the national grid to ensure optimal operating conditions, this will ensure the system is operated at a frequency close to 50HZ, and at voltages within tolerable limits,” said Olagunju.

She further stated: “Recently, high system frequency (more than 50HZ) has been observed, necessitating corrective measures. The options to bring down the frequency to 50Hz are, distribution companies to absorb more load, generation companies to reduce generation.

“The first option is the appropriate line of action. However, due to inexplicable reasons, some Discos failed to take more load as generation increases. This has left the System Operator with no other option than to ask the Gencos to reduce generation to ensure grid stability.”

“The directive to Gencos to reduce generation is imperative to maintain the integrity of the grid as frequency that is higher than 50HZ could result in system disturbance. It is important to note that the directives are issued with a high sense of duty and responsibility to the nation and the entire electricity industry,” Olagunju said.
She noted that this year, the highest generation level recorded has been 4,650MW while the wheeling capacity of the TCN is 6,500MW, thus claiming that inferences that the transmission network was inadequate were false.

“It is therefore not a wheeling capacity challenge but a demand side management problem from some Discos rejecting available power. Load management decisions at the level of transmission are taken with high sense of duty to the nation and for the growth of the power sector,” she added.