- NEMSA to further probe recent fire outbreaks at TCN substations
Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Nigeria is gearing up to take over and possibly dominate trade in electricity between countries in the West African sub region under the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP), the Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Mr. Usman Mohammed, said on Tuesday.
Mohammed, who also chairs the WAPP, disclosed to journalists in Abuja that the regional electricity market of the 15-member countries Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would be launched on June 29 in Cotonou, capital of Benin Republic, with Nigeria ready to dominate it.
He said the country currently supplies significant power to some countries in the region, but has now elected to harmonise its load frequency with the rest of the region to be able to sell power to any of her countries.
Accordingly, the transmission lines that connect an area to its neighbouring area are referred to as tie-lines and power sharing between such two areas can only happen through these tie-lines.
Load frequency control in this regard then regulates the power flow between different areas while holding the frequency constant.
Mohammed also explained that new transmission lines between Nigeria and the rest of the region would be built for this purpose.
He specifically indicated that a new 330KV transmission line would be built from Shiroro power plant to Ivory Coast for this purpose.
“WAPP clearly signify regional trade in West Africa because several countries are trading energy in West Africa and there are plans to extend lines and build new generation stations.
“We have intensified the need to be more visible in exporting and receiving energy from other countries, that is why we and WAPP have come up with medium backbone which will build a 330KV line right from Shiroro to Cote D’Ivoire. Once it is completed, it will be the biggest transmission line in West Africa.
“For us to play a very good role in WAPP and for the market to be integrated, we need to synchronise the energy between Nigeria and other parts of West Africa. Nigeria is exporting significant electricity to West Africa and for the future of the market, Nigeria will play a big role,” said Mohammed.
He further stated: “Synchronising the electricity of Nigeria and the rest of West Africa is key to the success of the trade. What is required of us is that after achieving 49.5 by 50.5 megahertz, we need to move a step further to be able to meet up with the standard of WAPP and that is what we need to move to 49.8 and 50.2 megahertz.
“So, we will call you (Nigerian generation companies) very soon to agree with you on how we will move to that next level of frequency control, and this is necessary because you will be players in the market, exporting your energy and earning direct foreign exchange. We want to put you on notice that we will call you for this meeting so that we can be able to synchronise the power between Nigeria and the rest of West Africa.”
Mohammed equally stated that the tariff to be adopted in the regional electricity trade would be cost reflective to allow generation companies to sell power across the region profitably.
“The need for this regional electricity is not for charity, it is for business that will reduce the overall cost of electricity in the region,” Mohammed explained.
Similarly, the Chairman of the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA), Prof. Honore Bogler, stated that the region was ready to kick-start its regional electricity market.
Bogler said: “We are now able to come out with a result regarding our market for electricity. We have worked for many years building WAPP and ERERA, trying to set up the electricity market and now ERERA can testify that the market is on good trajectory, and we hope that by 2020, we can get this to be a competitive market in our region.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) has said it will undertake a full investigation into the cause of recent fire outbreaks at TCN’s substations in Lagos, Kaduna and Kogi amongst others, in which expensive high voltage transformers were burnt.
NEMSA’s Managing Director, Mr. Peter Eweso, stated that when he inaugurated a specialised training for about 55 of its engineers and technical officers on meter testing and inspection of electrical installations that though it had done preliminary investigations on the fire outbreaks and discovered the transformers got burnt because they lost their protections, it would however launch a wider investigation.
“Our men had gone there for preliminary visits, and found that it was as a result of protection failure, but we need to do further probing to find out if there are external causes to these outbreaks,” Eweso said.
He noted that the specialised training would cover 142 of its engineers, adding that 87 had been trained in the first phase in Lagos, while 55 would undertake the training in Abuja.
The training, he noted, would enable them undertake inspection of all categories of electrical installations in the country.