Electricity generation companies in the country have called on the federal government to open up access to energy by allowing them to sell power to whoever wants it at any given time rather than putting energy on the grid which is the practice presently.
Our correspondent gathered exclusively from the executive secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies (GenCos), Joy Ogaji, that this is the panacea to the power crisis the country is battling with.
According to her: “Government should open up access to energy by declaring eligible customers to enable the GenCos sell power to whoever wants it at any given time rather than putting it on the grid. This means that instead of a company to use generating set to power their operations, it could go the GenCos for electricity supply and pay for it. In this way there will be no need to limit what the GenCos generate at any given time.”
While reacting to the recent explanation by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) that it asked the GenCos to ramp down power generation instead of distributing companies rejecting energy generated and transmitted to the national grid by the GenCos, in the face of the obvious inadequate power, Ogaji said, “It has been like that and not just starting. And as a result of that, TCN has always asked the GenCos to ramp down. We have our facts and figures to prove that.
“The directive from TCN that we should ramp down has been a regular instruction since 2013, and we have been obliging in line with the grid code that says if the system operator gives instruction for the sake of grid stability, the GenCos must ramp down. We have been doing that to our own detriment financially, mechanically and otherwise.
Ogaji lamented that because of the ugly trend, most of GenCos’ machines have broken down, most times from too frequent servicing carried out on them, adding that apart from that the GenCos have lost a huge amount of money to energy generated but not consumed as nobody pays for what he has not used.
She said the challenge was that the grid capacity is not enough, as it cannot take more than 4, 000 MWs at a time, thus making any extra load left on the grid destructive to the system. “As at the time of privatisation in 2013, government promised to invest more into the expansion of the grid, but here we are in 2017 with nothing done.
Meanwhile the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has clarified that its earlier directive asking electricity generation companies to cut generation was in the interest of the integrity of the national grid and the entire power network in the country.
Speaking in the same vein, the general manager, Public Affairs of TCN, Seun Olagunju, said the directive became imperative as some distribution companies (DisCos) were refusing to take more load as necessitated by increase in generation in recent times, a situation it noted would result in an imbalance and subsequent disturbance in the system.
Against the backdrop of complaints by the DisCos that TCN deploys power arbitrarily to areas where it feels like, instead of where they (the DisCos want power for business, the TCN spokeswoman stated that TCN’s mandate was not to do discriminatory transmission by favouring some sections while starving others, adding “What I think the DisCos should do is step up action in ensuring payment at all levels to avoid avoidable losses of market revenue as has been the case.
“It is the duty of the System Operator (SO) to monitor the power flow on the national grid to ensure optimal operating conditions by making sure that the system is operated at a frequency close to 50HZ, and at voltages within tolerable limits.
“Recently, high system frequency (more than 50HZ) has been observed, necessitating some corrective measure, which, in this case, is either to ask the DisCos to absorb more load or the GenCos to reduce generation.
“The first option is the appropriate line of action. However, due to inexplicable reasons, some DisCos failed to take more load as generation increases. This has left the System Operator with no other option than to ask the GenCos to reduce generation to ensure grid stability,” she explained.
While stating categorically that the problem was not a wheeling capacity challenge on the part of TCN, but a demand side management problem from some DisCos rejecting available power, TCN noted that the highest generation level this year stands at 4,650MW while its wheeling capacity is 6,500MW.
When contacted, the executive director, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), Sunday Oduntan, said the allegation that some DisCos refuse to take more load is untrue, reaffirming the allegation that TCN always channel the load to where the DisCos cannot effectively supply most times because their transmission facilities are obsolete and bad in many areas.
He therefore urged urgent action to upgrade TCN to capacity.
All efforts made to get the regulatory body (NERC) to say what is being done to ascertain the veracity of the allegation with a view to finding lasting solution in the interest of the Nigerian people proved fruitless.
However, the regulator, at the 14th monthly stakeholders’ meeting held in Oshogbo, Osun State announced that it had mapped out some corrective measures to tackle the issues of inefficiency and losses in the sector.