NERC Must Punish Discos for Load Rejection, Says TCN

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Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) yesterday insisted that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Agency (NERC) must punish Distribution Companies (Discos) that decline to accept the load due them.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Public Hearing on the request for a tariff hike by the TCN, its Managing Director, Mr. Usman Mohammed, who said the transmission company was mostly interested in the provision of a spinning reserve for the TCN to cushion the impact of grid collapses said that when there are sanctions, the practice of load rejection will stop.

He said the outcry over the planned extra-ordinary tariff review on the grounds that many Nigerians are poor was not justifiable, stressing that even those in the villages are already overpaying because no metres have been provided for them.

Mohammed said that with the recent stand by the NERC to surcharge Discos for rejecting power supplied, the matter will soon be a thing of the past.

“NERC is addressing the load rejection issue. NERC has already made an order mandating Discos to pay for capacity. This will address the problem and the load rejection matter will be a thing of the past because load rejection is because the Discos can drop or increase load at will and they are not penalised.

“But now that NERC is putting this structure to ensure that there’s a capacity charge for those who refuse to take load, very soon the load rejection will be over” he said.

He said the so-called excess generation had become an issue because the industry was not working as it should.

He explained: “Where is excess generation coming from? Currently, we still have a problem with gas supply and that is because the market is not working. As Nigerians, we have to take a decision to make the market work. We need to remove the government from the market.

“They need to have an industry without government, otherwise we will continue to pump money into the sector and it will not work. The sector is supposed to be governed by contract so that those who do not perform can be liquidated based on contract”

He argued that Nigeria will not have stable supply until the issue of pricing, power collapse, and metering are addressed.

According to Mohammed, “If we don’t do that, we will continue to waste time. And I have said it many times that there’s no relationship between poverty and payment for electricity.

“What we need to do is to provide electricity to our people for 24 hours, give them a means of measurement and let them decide what they do with the electricity supplied to them. They should be supplied meters.

“We cannot be giving five hours and all these games. In places like Burkina Faso, they buy electricity very expensive. Here, the most expensive generator on the grid is Azura 10.5 megawatts. In Burkina Faso, they buy 17 to 21 cents per kilowatt and yet they have efficient utility.

“The grid remains the best way to supply power. Nigeria must pay for power, the industry must be governed by contracts and anyone who does not play his will be sanctioned.”

The company said that it could not guarantee the stability of Nigeria’s electricity grid at the moment because it did not have the spinning reserves to prevent its total collapse whenever there were serious system issues.

TCN added that it did a competitive procurement and contracted six Generation Companies (Gencos) to provide 220 megawatts (MW) spinning reserve which could cut down rising incidences of system collapses.

It argued that the present 4,500MW power grid requires a 10 percent spinning reserve, explaining that once this spinning reserve is deployed, appreciable grid stability should be expected.

The chairman of the panel and vice chairman of NERC, Mr. Sanusi Garba, in his remarks, said it was the responsibility of NERC to ensure that only prudent rates are approved.

He promised to ensure that Nigerians do not pay prices that are not commensurate with services and promised to get back to TCN on their request in two weeks.