Kunle KALEJAYE & Grace UDOFIA
Inadequate gas supply has been identified as one of the major challenges bedeviling the power sector after its successful privatisation by President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in 2013.
When properly addressed, it is believed that Nigeria will generate above 6,000 megawatts of electricity from various power stations including Independent Power Plants across the country.
The Chairman/CEO, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, Dr. Sam Amadi said there are lots of economic benefits from the power sector post privatisation era.
He however noted that these economic benefits are currently trapped due to inadequate gas supply to fire various power plants.
Amadi, who spoke at the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administration of Nigeria, ICSAN 2014 annual public lecture, said if gas is not supplied to power plants, electricity cannot be generated, transmitted and distributed to end users.
“As a result, distribution companies cannot sell power, if they don’t sell power they cannot equally make profit to pay off their debts,” he said.
Also commenting on tariff policy, NERC boss said the tariff structure is based on balancing stating that “the balance is critical, ultimately what the consumer wants is power.
“And to get that power the consumer should know that the power would be financed. We allow for investors to recover their money, but in allowing for them to recover their money we are telling them what they can recover.
“If they tell us they are going to use aircraft to distribute power we will disagree. Our job is to keep the balance, first we make sure that there’s power and also benchmark the quality of service.
“We are now coming up with a regulation to penalise and compensate in some cases consumers who suffer grevious poor quality service.
“For example some people are coming up with fixed charges. We are saying if somebody does not have light for one month then they shouldn’t pay fixed charges. Some of those regulations are to bring a balance to enable the operator recover his money and reinvest in the industry and the consumer being served well.
Amadi explained that a regulator is not a regulator if he cannot protect quality, adding that, “we should also know that with the level of our standard now, we cannot have uninterrupted power supply for some time.
“We shouldn’t just say because there’s no light in my area so we have failed. First, we still have low generation, but we are improving. Within that scarcity there’s still some minimum of good service that every consumer should have.
“Our job is to make sure that every consumer receives quality service without unduly over bothering them.
If you can’t provide 24 hour power supply, provide quality power, answer calls, and respond to calls from consumers when there are outages, clear them within a reasonable time. If there are complaints respond to them. We would not say because the sector has not grown or have enough capacity therefore and should not do anything at all.
“We are going to bench them to offer quality service when bills are paid. We should expect this change as soon as possible, because we can’t wait for too long. Right now investors are asking for the regulator to protect them, we are also asking them to serve the customers. So we should expect the changes as soon as possible,” he said.