Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has said that it will be difficult for Nigerian electricity consumers to derive any benefits from its ongoing expansion of the country’s national grid except the 11 electricity distribution networks are equally recapitalised.
The Managing Director of the TCN, Mr. Usman Mohammed, said this during an interaction with journalists.
He said a good number of the country’s expensive transmission facilities were also exposed to potential risk of breakdown on account of poor or non-existent end-to-end protection mechanisms from the Discos’ networks.
Mohammed, has frequently canvassed for the recapitalisation of the Discos, alleging that their poor financial conditions prevent them from delivering quality electricity services to Nigerians.
He repeated this call in the interaction with journalists, but this time warning that, “Nigerians will not get the benefit of transmission grid expansion if the Discos are not fixed.”
According to him: “If you look at the current situation, transmission will continue to expand and will not wait for the Discos because transmission infrastructure is more difficult and expensive to build and takes longer time than Discos infrastructure.”
He explained that many of the equipment used by the Discos for their operation were locally sourced or manufactured in Nigeria, unlike transmission equipment which he claimed are manufactured abroad, while the construction of transmission infrastructures was more expensive and required bigger Right of Way (RoW).
“We look at transmission as an enabler, and so anytime government takes a decision or distribution investors become serious, they can fix the Discos.
“We are connected to the Discos and so protection is very important. Out of the 738 interface connections we have with the Discos, only 421 have protection on their side; the remaining 317 have no protection. “This means that fault in people’s house can easily hit TCN transformers and spoil them,” he further explained.
Mohammed added that it would be difficult to get the Discos to build additional and needed distribution injection substations because according to him they are financially broke.
He however said: “We need to recapitalise the Discos so that they will have funds to fix their network and provide meters that would reduce their aggregate commercial loss.
“The industry can only work well when all the players are working. Reapitalisation will lead to a situation where we have stronger companies with better management.”
The TCN head also talked about his company’s efforts at installing a modern supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for the grid to enable it function properly, saying, “we have done a lot of work and are gradually putting in place strategies that will enable us have a functional SCADA.”
“On the spinning reserve, we have procured 260MW, which is awaiting approval from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). Presently, NERC is looking into funding it because spinning reserve is supposed to be financed by the electricity market,” he added.