â€¢ As United States restates commitment to â€˜Power Africaâ€™
By Ejiofor Alike
The feeble transmission infrastructure wheeling generated power to the national grid has stalled the generation of 700 megawatts of power in the 1,320 megawatt-capacity Egbin Power Station in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer of Egbin Power Plc, Mr. Dallas Peavey, has said.
This is coming as an eight-member Congressional delegation from the United States has restated the countryâ€™s commitment to â€˜Power Africa,â€™ a US initiative to add over 30,000 megawatts of cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity, and 60 million new homes and business connections in Africa.
Peavey spoke to journalists at the weekend after the plantâ€™s tour by the Congressional delegation led by Senator Christopher Coons, who is a member of the Appropriations, Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Ethics committees.
Some of the other members of the delegation, who were also accompanied by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, include Senator Gary Peters of Michigan; Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado; Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware; Representative Terri Sewell of Alabama; Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania; Representative Barbara Lee of California; and Representative Frederica Wilson of Florida.
Peavey said 700 megawatts were stranded as a result of weak transmission infrastructure.
Peavey, who noted that gas was no longer an issue as the plant had more than enough gas to generate 1,320 MW, added that over 700 megawatts were stranded, while the plant generated only about 600MW.
During the visit by the US Congressmen, Egbin was generating 599MW against its 1,320MW generating capacity.
While Units 1 and 3 were generating zero megawatts, Unit 2 was generating 175MW; Unit 4 was generating 203MW; Units 5 and 6 were generating 110MW and 111 MW, respectively, against each unitâ€™s capacity of 220MW.
Peavey attributed the poor generation to lack of transmission capacity to wheel the generated power to the national grid.
â€œWe need to work together with the federal government to evacuate the power because we have over 700 megawatts stranded. We are working with the TCN to get that done; we are working with the United States; World Bank, IFC, Sahara Group and all the stakeholders to get the power out of the plant,â€ he explained.
According to him: â€œThe challenge is this plant is 35 years old and the cost of replacement of those parts and doing the job has changed. You know that these parts were manufactured by the Japanese and to get those parts has become a challenge.
â€œSo, we are working with the United States to find replaceable parts; we are looking to re-engineer some parts of the system to upgrade and improve it. So, we are working with the government of the United States and all the stakeholders to make it happen,â€ he explained.
Peavey added that gas was no longer a challenge, stressing that the plant had more than sufficient gas supplies to be able to generate power at the full capacity of the plant.
â€œThe issue is the evacuation of the power and that is why we are working with the TCN to make that happen. We are working hand-in-hand with TCN; we have 700 megawatts of stranded capacity. We are generating almost 600MW right now, this minute but we have the capacity to generate 1,320MW,â€ he said.
Peavey told the US Congressmen that prior to the privatisation of the plant in November 2013, generation was below 240MW per hour due to the dismal operational state of the units, adding that at its lowest point, only two of the six units were partially operational.
He added that the total overhaul of Units 4, 5 and 1 by the new owners allowed each of these units to peak at its 220-MW original installed capacity, stressing that the plant had never undergone a major overhaul of this kind in its 35 years of operation.
Peavey also noted that the new investors successfully restored the operation of Unit 6, which had been out of operations for 10 years.
He also identified the other achievements of the new owners of Egbin Power Plc to include the upgrading of the Distributed Control System (DCS) to Units 4, 5 and 1 to the latest modern technology available; and the major overhauling of the demineralisation plant.
Other achievements include; restoration of the water treatment and waste treatment facility; replacement and installation of the Turbine Vibration Monitoring Systems, which assists in regulating the speed of the turbine in an event of excessive vibration to avoid a catastrophic failure as had previously occurred; and the repair and replacement of the entire facility Fire Protection System that had been out of service for almost 20 years.
Peavey added that with the completion of the remaining unit overhauls, Egbin would be operating at a minimum of 95 per cent of its installed capacity for Nigeria.
He, however, disclosed that the debt owed the plant by the federal government for power generated stood at N125 billion as at August 1, 2017.
On what informed the visit of the delegation from the United States to Egbin Power Plant, the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Sahara Group, Mr. Tonye Cole, said Nigeria always needed to always showcase the fact that it was always moving forward and not stagnant.
He said: â€œThe privatisation exercise happened three- and-a-half years ago and we have actually moved forward in the energy space completely. So, one of the best ways to do it is not just to talk about it but for people to come and see it themselves. We can talk about what we have achieved but if they donâ€™t see it, they wonâ€™t believe. One thing I can assure you is that the delegation that has come here and seen this will go back and they will be bigger advocates for Nigeria moving forward because they know that whatever they discuss about Power Africa and investment in the power sector that they have seen that there are people on ground, who are actually doing it. Our whole objective was to make sure that this was achieved and I think we have achieved that.â€
In his brief remarks, Senator Coons said the visit was part of the efforts of the United States to ensure the success of â€˜Power Africa,â€™ adding that the US recognised that power was a significant challenge in Africa, particularly Nigeria.
â€œWe want to see what the US-Nigeria partnership has to offer,â€ Coons said.