Households, firms, others live in darkness
NGC, TCN yet to complete maintenance
By Udeme Akpan, Olasunkanmi Akoni & Ediri Ejoh
THE economy of Nigeria, over the weekend witnessed a major setback as consumers – individuals, households, companies and others experienced prolonged power outages, following a huge drop of power supply from 4,000 megawatts to 2,039 mw.
An authoritative report obtained by Vanguard from the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated: “On April 23rd, 2019, average power sent out was 87,061.8 MWh/day. The reported gas constraint was 2,039.5 MW.”
“The reported line constraint was 0 MW. The reported frequency management constraint due to loss of DISCO feeders was 1,963 MW. The water management constraint was 150 MW. The power sector lost an estimated 2,048, mw due to constraints on this day.”
Investigation by Vanguard in all parts of the nation, yesterday, showed that the situation has not improved because the Nigerian Gas Company, NGC, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, was not able to complete the rehabilitation of the Escravos-Lagos Gas Pipeline System.
Consequently, Egbin, Omotosho, Olorunsogo and Paras Power stations were not able to generate power for transmission and distribution, thus forcing many Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs to express their helplessness to consumers.
In its statement sent to Vanguard, the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, had stated: “The National Grid is experiencing reduced power generation due mainly to emergency maintenance by NGC of its gas pipeline supplying gas to Egbin, Omotosho, Olorunsogo and Paras Power Stations.
“This was reportedly caused by leakage on the Escravos-Lagos gas pipeline, necessitating the total shutdown of the four power generating plants on 25th April, 2019.”
In a statement signed by the General Manager Public Affairs, TCN stated that prior to the incident, Omotosho NIPP and Olorunsogo NIPP had already been out due to gas supply issues.
According to the statement, NGC worked hard to repair the gas pipeline so that normal gas supply can be restored to the affected power plants.
Presently, repairs have been completed and the pipeline is currently being pressured prior to resumption of gas supply to the affected power stations
TCN further noted that it has diverted about 312MW load from the Benin-Egbin 330kV transmission line which tripped off at 23.14hours on Tuesday, 23rd April, 2019, to Omotosho – Ikeja West and Ayede-Ikeja 330kV transmission lines, due to on-going repair works on the Benin-Egbin 330kV transmission line.
It stated: “The tripping was caused by a line cut between Ofosu and Okada towns; however TCN engineers are making concerted efforts to complete repair work on the transmission line, despite the very difficult terrain at that location.
“Due to the diversion of the load from this line to the two transmission lines equally feeding Lagos axis, load shedding in Lagos axis was minimised to about 280MW at the first instance. However with the attendant gas supply issues and sudden gas leakage problem, load shedding increased considerably.”
In its latest report obtained by Vanguard, the Electricity Generation Companies, GENCOs, indicated that power generation increased as follows: 4,214.32 (2013); 6,154.05 (2014); 6,616.28 (2015); 7,183.59 (2016); 6,993.14 (2017) and 7,383.04 (2018).
But investigation showed that it has not been possible to transmit and distribute the current unstable generated power to consumers.
Executive secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies, Dr. Joy Ogaji said: “Unless the challenges in the power chain are tackled, power output will continue to be poor. The generation companies are ready and willing to generate power that will sustain the country on a daily basis but they are being constrained by factors beyond their control.
If power output must improve, the transmission and distribution arm of the power chain must be strictly regulated. The transmission grid must be upgraded to ensure 8,000MW available capacity from GENCOs is put on the grid. The distributors (DISCOS) must be strictly monitored to ensure revenues collected for electricity supplied is remitted. This is the link to infrastructure development and future investment along the power chain.”
In a telephone inter view with Vanguard, yesterday, General Secretary, National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Mr. Joe Ajaero, said: “The sector was privatised wrongly and that is the reason for these crisis. The generation companies privatised have not moved beyond the capacity given to them. They are not maintaining the installed capacity giving to them as at take over. They have not built additional unit at the power unit in the station.
“TCN has been able to wheel what they have. As it stands, the DISCOs cannot wheel more than expected because of weak distribution transformers and lines.
“The system is not working or refused to work. The Federal Government has issued intervention funds and yet not to delivering to expectations. The sector needs to be reviewed. If the quality is working, we will continue and if not working, we would review it. However, after the review, every stakeholder should come up with ideas on how to make it work.”
However, Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said yesterday that maintenance was ongoing and that the situation would improve on completion.
Senior Special Assistant to the Minister, Media, Hakeem Bello, told Vanguard last night that part of the maintenance on TCN facility had been completed, resulting in improvement in supply.
According to him, work was ongoing to complete the remaining segment of the work.
Other important stakeholders, including the NNPC and Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, did not make any comments yesterday.
Reacting to the development, yesterday, Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Mr Muda Yusuf, said the poor state of power has affected the nation’s economy in many ways.
He said: “Most of the members have all resorted to alternative sources of power supply. Some of the big companies have completely cut off from the national grid to private gas supply as means of providing power for their operation.
“This is because some of their operations and productions cannot work with the epileptic power we are experiencing in the country. All the multinationals are generating their power themselves right now.
“Those that suffer most now are the SMEs and the micro operators that rely on generators, more so now that the fuel is not even available, their problems have been compounded.
“I think something has to be done if this country is to move forward. We cannot continue this way as a nation. Where on earth have you seen manufacturers running generators as major source of energy supply? Government should see to the plight of the manufacturers in the country before all the industries relocate to Ghana as we are experiencing today.”
The President of Manufacturing Association of Nigeria, MAN, Mr. Frank Jacobs, also stated that there has been cut down in production, job losses, as well as outright closure of manufacturing concerns or relocation to other countries.
He said: “When you are producing and power is taken unan nounced, goods in line of production would be destroyed. As a result, many members of MAN have resorted to generating power privately and completely cut off their operations from the national grid.
“Most companies, like Coca-Cola, Wempco, Nigeria Flour Mills and especially the multi nationals self-generate their power. They don’t rely on the national grid. And for the last three years, our study showed that our members spent averagely in a month N20.8 billion.”