Gencos’ Host Communities Demand Free Electricity Supply

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Chineme Okafor in Abuja

Host communities of electricity generation companies (Gencos) in the country are demanding steady electricity supply to them at no cost from the Gencos, the Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC) has claimed.

APGC which is the umbrella trade association of the Gencos, disclosed to THISDAY recently in Abuja, that the host communities have equally threatened to disrupt power production from the Gencos if their requests are sidestepped.

Executive Secretary of the APGC, Dr. Joy Ogaji, explained the Gencos had made investments to upgrade access to power in their host communities as well as implemented several community relations projects, yet the communities insisted they want free power supplies.

Ogaji, did not specify which of the power Gencos had the challenge with their host communities but noted that the demands have now been heightened. She added that the Gencos do not distribute electricity and cannot afford to meet the demands of the communities.

“We now have challenges with host communities. They want free power supplies and they cannot pay because those companies are sited in their communities and as host communities, one of the benefits they are seeking is free power supply, not access to power,” said Ogaji.

She further stated: “What the Gencos have done in their host communities is to provide infrastructure for them to access power no matter where they are located.

“They have built substations and lines to connect them to the grid so they can have access to power, but the communities said no.

“They said access is one thing, they want supply as well and that when they are connected, the Gencos should also pay for their supplies but you know these demands are onerous and quite unreasonable.”

Clarifying the position of the Gencos on the demands of the host communities, Ogaji said: “There is no business that can handle this, we all know that currently, power is expensive – one particular community actually wants 3 megawatts to be given to them for free of charge, and if you take out that much from the generation profile of a Genco, who will pay for the O&M or the gas considering that the government is in a JV with gas suppliers.”

She said: “Government cannot just fold its arms and let this to happen because the assets have been paid for and were not given for free, and where necessary, they (Gencos) have compensated and bought the lands. Why then is government allowing communities to disturb the operators again?”

When asked what the Gencos were doing about the development, as well as its potential impact on power production in the country, Ogaji explained they had complained to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had not got a response from the regulatory agency.

She equally asked that the NERC and electricity distribution companies (Discos) in the market should take up their jobs of educating Nigerians on the structure of the sector, adding that such education would enlighten the host communities on the job of the Gencos and why their demands would be difficult to meet up.

“We want the government to look into this and consider if it is fair to us and our businesses. This should also be looked at to see if it is good for business expansion. Our Gencos have done so much in terms of CSR, yet the communities still agitate.

“They even threaten to shutdown Gencos when they have no electricity but Gencos are not Discos and the NERC should educate the people about this,” she added.