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REA justifies varsities’ power programme

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…says scheme will provide 224,800 people with access to electricity

By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA – The Rural electrification Agency, REA, said yesterday that the phase one of its Energising Education Programme, EEP, would provide access to electricity to a population of 224,800 people in nine Federal Universities and one Teaching Hospital across the country.

The agency, while justifying the significance of the scheme, explained that, taking Universities and University Teaching Hospitals off the grid would ensure self-sufficiency in power and sustainable development for Nigerian Universities.

It also argued that, the programme was designed to primarily address the challenge of access to uninterrupted power supply with a focus on Nigerian tertiary institutions, the lack of which has been cited as a major challenge and barrier to effective learning and innovation and advancement.

Speaking in Abuja, the Managing Director, Rural Electrification Agency, REA, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, aurgued that apart from invoking effective learning, the scheme was determined to help in the areas of institutional operations, law enforcement and security, student residency and quality of life and University small, medium, and large scale businesses.

Mrs. Ogunbiyi pointed out that “The EE Programme is in line with fulfillment of the social contract and government responsibility to its citizens, and will positively affect the education, health, power, law enforcement and finance sectors of the country.

According to her, “Taking Universities and University Teaching Hospitals off the grid would ensure self-sufficiency in power and sustainable development for Nigerian Universities and free up energy on the grid which could be better channeled towards improving supply to deficient areas.”

She said the programme would among other things, “Reduce air and noise pollution from diesel and petrol generator alternative power supplies. As shown from energy audit results the universities are currently using 1,068 generators as an alternative source of power.

“Encourage the development of renewable energy and captive power plants. This is in line with Nigeria’s INDCs under the Paris Agreement with respect to developing renewable energy projects as an alternative cleaner source of energy.

“Improve the general standard of learning and living in Universities – improved security through street lights, costs of personal power sources, health and safety issues associated with alternatives such as candles and other open flames.

“Improve healthcare service delivery, research, teaching and innovation in the Universities Teaching Hospitals and reduce mortality rate and improve the global status/ ranking of Nigerian Universities as well as give bragging rights to the current Government administration if successful.”

On the programme’s sustainability, Mrs. Ogunbiyi explained that, “The issue of sustainability is considered a very key and paramount aspect of the EEP Phase 1 Projects. It is not only important that the projects are not abandoned, but are effectively built, operated and maintained using highly skilled and experienced personnel as well as state of the art technology.”

She said, “Provision for one (1) year Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of the Phase 1 Projects, has been incorporated into the bids submitted and covered by the BPP approved corrected tender sum (above mentioned).

“This 1 year O& M forms part of the ten (10) year O&M plan that has been developed for the Phase 1 Projects.

“It is expected that the EPC Contractor will also undertake the O&M for the remaining nine years of the O&M plan, to ensure seamless operation and maintenance of the Phase 1 Projects, to avoid finger pointing/transfer of blame between contractors in the event an issue arises with the operation of the technology, which could potentially result in the halt or delay in services.”

On the permit by regulatory agency, she said, “In accordance with NERC Permits for Captive Power Generation Regulations 2008, REA vide a letter ref: REA/01/MDCEO/NERC/10/VOL.1/2017/116 dated 27th June 2017 applied for the permits to operate the captive power plants for the EEP Phase 1 Projects.

“The captive power permits have been granted vide a letter ref NERC/07/LLC/17/KG/298 and dated 13 day of November 2017.”

She explained that “Due to cost implications and time constraints, the projects under the EEP cannot be implemented at the same time; therefore, the EEP has been divided into phases.

“Phase I was designed for the generation of 28.56 MW covering nine Federal Universities and one University Teaching Hospital across the six geopolitical zones.”

Recall the the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy has queried the N10 billion solar power projects for nine universities across the country by the Rural Electrification Agency, REA.

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