Stories by Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The federal government’s repeated claim of an unutilised 2000 megawatts (MW) electricity capacity by the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria’s power market has been faulted by the Ibadan Disco, which said that such claims were questionable.
Speaking at recent workshop organised in Abuja by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on its eligible customers’ regulation, the Deputy Managing Director of Ibadan Disco, Mr. John Ayodele, said such claims were according to daily records of power generated and transmitted to the Discos doubtful.
Ayodele, who also asked the government to exempt hydro power generation companies (Gencos) from participating in the eligible consumers’ scheme because according to him, they were not qualified by merit to be in it, explained that from the sector’s daily power broadcast, it was difficult to accept the existence of a 2000MW constrained power generation capacity which the government claims exists because the Discos do not take all that is generated in the sector.
“I read the national broadcast and I am still asking myself: is there any stranded 2000 megawatts hiding behind the stories? And I can’t find, and this issue keeps coming up.
“When I look at all plants that are available, when you talk about installed capacity, it is different from capacity that can go on bar. I looked at the broadcast today on maximum generation available, capacity unbarred is 4666 megawatts, while we were generating about 4200 megawatts. “Available generation that can be made available based on gas turbines that are down or undergoing repairs will never take us to having extra 2000 megawatts,” Ayodele said.
He also noted that since hydro power Gencos were producing cheaply and their operators did not completely buy them off the government during the 2013 power privatisation exercise, there was no need for them to get involved with the eligible customers’ scheme.
According to him, the Discos were equally not against the implementation of the eligible customers’ regulation by the NERC, but only request that it be implemented appropriately.
“No hydro station should qualify. I believe that if we follow the rules as specified in the regulation, we should not have a problem. No Disco today can say it is against eligible customer because there is no reason why the Disco itself cannot be an eligible customer.
“So, if you want to go to the cheap ones, we should be there first to buy all the power available on the hydro and leave you to stay with the gas.
“I think we should be very consistent with the rules. The Disco I represent has about six customers that want to go, but they are going. Some will owe us money in different names and we have written to NERC on this several times to say they should pay us and we will let them go.
“No Disco can hold somebody to ransom under this, if any Disco is holding anybody to ransom on this, then NERC is there because the regulation must work and succeed,” he explained.
Ayodele, further stated: “The merit order should be there, and hydros should be exempted from participating in this. What are they looking for? They are being dispatched 100 per cent, so what else do they want? Nothing because payment will follow, and payment guarantees has been given by the government and it is working. Let us use the rules the way they should apply.”
The federal government recently revealed that had committed to invest N72 billion for the procurement and installation of equipment to help distribute unused 2,000 MW of electricity to consumers in the country. The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who disclosed this, had said the 2,000MWs was from the 7,000MWs the Gencos could generate and the 5,000 MWs that DisCos could distribute.
According to the minster, the DisCos have complained about inadequate power to distribute. Fashola, however, said the problem was that the DisCos could not distribute all the power that was available.
This, he explained, was leaving the sector with an unused capacity of 2,000 MWs, with an approximately 1,150 MWs projected to come in 2018 and 2019 respectively.