By Emmanuel Addeh
The federal government has made arrangements to ensure that prolonged power outages are reduced in the country throughout the period of the current lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In that regard, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) said it had set up a situation room to ensure that all cases are promptly resolved to relieve Nigerians of the discomfort occasioned by the restriction of movements.
Already, the regulatory agency, who said Tuesday that it received 3,225 cases, added that it succeeded in resolving about 1,433 complaints between April 4 and April 17, noting that majority of the complaints bordered on interruption of supply.
However, the NERC Chairman, Prof. James Momoh, noted that his team observed that many cases remain unsolved because some distribution companies (Discos) reported having infrastructural and technical constraints on some feeders which he said the commission is intervening to speedily resolve.
Of the 11 Discos, NERC said the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) had the highest number of complaints totalling 604 out of which 437 had been resolved.
It said that it constituted the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry ‘Situation Room’ to forestall prolonged power outage by the industry operators for the period of lockdown declared by the federal government to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“The ‘Situation Room’ adopted a three-pronged approach of surveillance of NESI during this period-System Operators Report Analysis/Monitoring, Customer Complaints Handling, and Transmission Company of Nigeria and Discos Interface Resolution.
“Complaints received from electricity customers through telephone/text messages, WhatsApp messages, and emails are tracked daily with relevant operators to ensure expeditious resolution.
“Daily operational reports are analysed, summarised, and trend identified weekly for further regulatory oversight and directives to the operators. Prolonged electricity supply interruptions are tracked by the ‘Situation Room’ to ensure Nigerians have stable electricity supply for the lockdown period.
“Meanwhile, a total of 2,689 complaints on electricity supply interruptions were monitored during the period under review,” it said.
According to NERC, the Situation Room’ led by the commissioners has top management staff of the commission and the system operator with the objective of mitigating the risk of service disruptions in the electricity industry.
“The decision was in consideration of the adverse impact of the current movement restrictions as part of the efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“In this regard, a ‘Directive on Continuity of Service in NESI’ has been issued to all operators in the electricity industry with a view to ensuring that their respective service continuity plans are activated immediately,” it said.
NERC said that it had also made contingency arrangements to accommodate essential staff on-site; health and isolation facilities for a localised outbreak of Covid-19; provision of vital resources including food, medical supply and other essentials.
It also said that there were plans for emergency sourcing of essential spare parts and consumables; plans for monitoring of critical assets and other infrastructure; arrangement for early clearance of technical faults and alternative channels for engaging with customers.