DisCos and the Unutilised Electricity

Electricity-distribution-sub-station1

The Honourable Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Raji Fashola (SAN), during one of his working visits to Jos, was quoted to have said that about 5,950 megawatts of electricity was not utilized by the distribution companies within the spate of ten days.

To start with, by simple definition, ‘electricity simply means the movement of electrons along wire or conductor’. Therefore, any force, either centrifugal or centripetal that distorts the movement certainly will not give the maximum output. Therefore, the Honourable Minister should note that there are many factors militating against the DISCOs taking full load from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), apart from the so-called misinterpreting energy readings by miscalculating drop in electricity demand from customers, as alleged by the DISCOs through their spokesperson.

The truth of the matter is that no matter how the energy from the system operator (SO) is calculated, none of the over 4,000 kilometres 33KV distribution networks across the country can carry full load without tripping the main feeder. I stand to be corrected or proved wrong by anybody or group. When we take a look at 33KV distribution lines across the country, you will observe that almost all the insulators, fibre cross-arms and poles are either broken, cracked or even shattered. What miracle are you expecting from such a haggard looking comatose system? A lot needs to be done in areas of reinforcing and re-strengthening the existing 33/11KV network. To add salt to the injury, over 40% of the distribution transformers, ranging from 100KVA to 500KVA are already overloaded. Consequently, the DISCOs have to embark on a daily load-shedding of these transformers in order to keep them in service and to meet its customers’ needs.

There is also the problem of over-extension of 33/11KV distribution network across the country. Other associated factors cannot be enumerated for want of space. How can a network under perpetual load-shedding take full load?

We expect the DISCOs to have taken cognizance of these factors and make provision to replace the dilapidated/aged critical technical materials needed to take full load without many losses.

The DISCOs are economical with the truth, they should tell the Honourable Minister about the problems they inherited from the former Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), and what they have done to solve the problems as investors. The Honourable Minister is not an engineer and may not understand better what the entire 33/11KV distribution network is going through.

The undertakers of the privatization exercise as contained in the (EPSR Act 2005), only took cognizance of the legal framework, not minding the engineering framework, period!

Minister Fashola has always rejected the call to cancel the privatization exercise, on the mere reason that the federal government will have to refund the proceeds in dollars to the investors. If I should take the Honourable Minister back to memory lane, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo sold the nation’s refineries, his successor, late President Umaru Yar’Adua of blessed memory, came and revised the sale due to administrative discrepancies and other forms of observable irregularities, the heavens did not fall. After all, ‘soja go, soja come, barrack no dey move’ – although, the Honourable Minister has emphasized much about the Power Sector Recovery Plan (PSRP), to refocus the industry. Anyway, let’s see how it works without doing the needful. As an electrical engineer, an industry participant and a stakeholder, I’ve said it times without number to those who care to listen that electricity distribution and generation is not a GSM network business where you invest, and start smiling to the bank immediately. This is not a business of mediocre. A lot of identifiable investments have to be carried out over a long period of time. That is why we initially advised for partial commercialization of the enterprise.

The Honourable Minister will agree with me that based on the above visible enumerated factors, the electricity industry was not ripe for privatization at that particular point of time; it was carried out in a hurry and haphazardly. Hence, the call for its reversal by concerned Nigerians. The Minister cannot be right while other Nigerians are wrong. The Minister also made mention of some of the proceeds of the privatization exercise that was used to pay the severance package of former staff of PHCN. And if I may ask: How much was the value of the company, how much was generated from the sales, how much was used to settle the so-called severance package, and have you settled the entire staff severance package? What of those that are dead without collecting a dime, and those that are presently terminally ill? I can understand that the Honourable Minister was a governor during the privatization exercise, but, as a lawyer, and a senior advocate in that matter, I expect him to ask fundamental questions regarding the sales, implementation of all agreements reached with the stakeholders, before making a final pronouncement on the issue. At least, by the call of his profession, he knows the retardant effect of not honouring an official agreement.

Fellow Nigerians, can you see the irony! Now, we can generate, but can’t distribute. Haven’t we gone back to the first law of indices which says, ‘any figure raised to power zero is 1’.

 

Source: IWIN

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