By Ejiofor Alike
An eight-member Congressional delegation from the United States led by Senator Christopher Coons (D-Delaware), a member of the Appropriations, Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Ethics committees, recently visited Egbin Power Station in Lagos to explore areas of intervention in Nigeriaâ€™s power sector.
Other members of the delegation, accompanied by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington are Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan); Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado); Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware); Representative Terri Sewell (D-Alabama); Representative Charlie Dent (R-Pennsylvania); Representative Barbara Lee (D-California); and Representative Frederica Wilson (D-Florida).
Speaking after the tour of the 1,320MW capacity plant, Coons said that the United States would continue to support any project that would guarantee success of Power Africa, its initiative to ensure power supply sufficiency across Africa.
Power Africa seeks to bring together experts, private sector, and governments from around the world to work in partnership to increase the number of people with access to power.
Power Africa played a key role in the power privatisation programme of the federal government and more recently, Power Africa assisted the federal government to finalise power purchase agreements for 14 utility-scale solar IPPs totaling over 1125 MW of power, as part of the efforts to diversify the countryâ€™s energy mix, and attract investors into the solar market.
Coons said the United States would also continue to support Nigeriaâ€™s economic growth and development, adding that the delegation visited the power station to see the investments and â€œthe work you are doing here and to see the significant improvement in performance and efficiency,â€ so as to â€œbetter understand what are your challenges, what are your actions.â€
Briefing the delegation, the Chief Executive Officer of Egbin Power Plc, Mr. Dallas Peavey disclosed that only two units of the six-unit capacity plant were partially operational when the plant was handed over to the private investors in November 2013.
He added that the plant also had an excess of 1,000 employees most of whom were aging experienced workforce, who were approaching retirement.
According to him, the companyâ€™s administrative building was also unsafe, in a dilapidated state, and a very bad occupational environment that was not conducive for productivity.
Peavey also added that the employee staff housing complex and community centre was closed as a result of its uninhabitable state.
The Egbin CEO also stated that the major spares necessary for plant operation and for preventive maintenance were unavailable, while materials in inventory warehouse were poorly stored, and largely obsolete.
According to Peavey, mobile equipment were old and in a state of disrepair, with most of the necessary plant auxiliaries systems, including demineralization and hydrogen processing plant non- functional.
Peavey noted that though the new investors have rehabilitated the plant and restored generation to its 1,320MW installed capacity, most generating companies in the country are highly constrained by the debt burden.
Peavey also told the US Congressmen that the federal government owes Egbin N125 billion for power generated but was not paid for.
â€œWe are highly constrained by the lack of payment for services rendered. No matter how much broad-minded you are and no matter the desire to serve your nation, if services are not paid for, the momentum to continue to serve will not be sustained. Industry operators are in dire need of funds as most of the monies used in acquiring the power assets and other post-privatisation investments came from the banks,â€ Peavey added.