The daily operational report of the National Control Centre (NCC) of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) revealed recently that six out of the 11 power generation companies (GENCOS) failed to generate electricity in one week due to constraints of gas and water to the power plants.
The GENCOS that recorded zero electricity during the week-long period included Sapele 1, Afam IV-V, A.E.S, ASCO, Transamadi and River IPP. We observe with dismay that failure of the six firms to generate power in a week has greatly compounded the unending problem of power generation which has invariably led to the current worsening electricity crisis across the country. It is rather unfortunate that since the power generation and distribution companies of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) were formally handed over by the immediate past Federal Government to investors that reportedly paid about $3 billion (N480 billion) for the assets in 2013, the much-orchestrated privatisation of the power sector is yet to translate into improved electricity supply.
Instead, as it has been the situation in about a month across the country, blackout has been the order of the day. This is an indication that in spite of government’s huge financial commitments over the years, including the proposed N701 billion bailout to the embattled power firms by the current administration, challenges threatening steady electricity supply have increased considerably.
The importance of uninterrupted power supply to the socio-economic and industrial development of a developing country like Nigeria cannot be overemphasised. It is for this reason government should identify the real problems bedevilling the power sector and muster the political will to decisively deal with them to ensure the overall development of the country.
It is worrisome that in spite of Nigeria’s abundant gas, the seemingly unending inadequate supply of it continues to pose serious threat to successful operations of power plants in the country. For instance, inadequate supply of gas due to shortage of gas supply from gas producers and vandalisation of gas pipelines in the Niger Delta region affect steady supply of gas to the thermal stations. When gas plants are shut by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) for periodic maintenance and newly-completed power firms established under the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) are facing operational challenges, there is inadequate supply of gas to power plants and this ultimately affects electricity supply.
We therefore urge government to find lasting solution to the recurring issue of inadequate gas supply to guarantee smooth operations of power plants. Also, government should urgently attend to the age-long agitations of those in the Niger Delta region to forestall further destruction of gas and oil pipelines to ensure regular supply of oil and gas to power plants for speedy economic recovery of the country.
The issue of power generation, distribution and transmission requires urgent attention for there to be lasting solution to the hydra-headed problems militating against uninterrupted supply of electricity in Nigeria. We learnt the GENCOS seem not to be generating enough power. If this is true, the DISCOS cannot have enough to distribute and at the end of the day, there will be nothing to transmit as nobody can give what he does not have.
Henceforth, there should be meaningful collaboration between GENCOS, DISCOS and TCN in order to end the lingering problems affecting generation, distribution and transmission of electricity. There should be considerable improvement in power generation, distribution and transmission.
The GENCOS have accused TCN of failing to transmit what they have generated. This is an important issue that all relevant stakeholders, including government, should immediately address in order to ensure sustainable levels of generation, distribution and transmission for improved electricity supply.
To avert problems affecting the power sector over the years, government should diversify into the use of solar, coal and biomass, amongst others, to generate power. Fortunately, there are large deposits of coal in Enugu for power generation. Solar power will be useful in the North although it currently serves a useful purpose in Lagos. Recently, the Country Chief Executive Officer, Lafarge Africa Plc, Michel Puchercos disclosed that the need to achieve greater power generation capacity in order to fuel all the company’s plants necessitated the use of biomass as alternative means of energy generation. He said this made it possible for his company to produce 50 percent power from biomass in 2016, leading to an increase of between 70-80 percent now. This has enabled the company save energy and a lot of foreign exchange. What other proof to show that there are cheap and sustainable sources of energy all over the country other than those that seem not to have yielded the desired results.