Commotion as high tension cable snaps in Lagos

By Obas Esiedesa, Abuja

Power generation to the national grid continued its recovery yesterday, with 13 plants clocking 2,152.60 Mega Watts as at 5pm.

The grid collapsed last Friday around 6.30pm, the third time in the past one month, leaving the entire country without public power supply.

The Minister of Power,  Abubakar Aliyu, attributed the collapse to acts of vandalism on a transmission tower on the Odukpani-Ikot Ekpene 330kV double circuit transmission line that resulted in a sudden loss of about 400MW of generation.

“This consequently led to a cascade of plants shut down across the country.  We wish to notify the public that power on the grid is being restored sequentially by the System Operator as other on-grid power plants are being dispatched to cover the lost generation capacity from the Calabar power plant owned by the Niger Power Holding Company Ltd,” the government added.

The minister in a statement by his Media aide, Isa Sanusi, disclosed that while a detailed investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the recurring grid failure was currently ongoing by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission and System Operator (the operator of the national grid), adding that the process of restoring supply was ongoing with some sections of the national grid already energised and supply restored to consumers.

“We wish to assure Nigerians that the Federal Government is working assiduously to deliver on the much-needed reforms and investments, including SCADA, that are critical to improving the capacity and reliability of the national grid.

This is in line with the Mr. President’s directives on closing infrastructure deficits in critical sectors of the Nigerian economy”, he added.

GenCos demand integrity test for operators

Meanwhile, electricity generation companies, GenCos, have absolved themselves of blame in the ongoing poor performance of the grid, saying it was the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, rather than GenCos that determined the volume of power on the grid.

The GenCos, therefore, called on the Federal Government to conduct integrity tests across the supply value chain to ascertain where the sector’s challenges lay.

Speaking to Vanguard in a telephone interview, the Executive Secretary of the Association of Power Generating Companies, APGC, Dr. Joy Ogaji, explained that assessing the performance of the GenCos based on the amount of power on the national grid was an incomplete picture of the situation.

She noted that GenCos generate, based on the directives of the Independent System Operator, an autonomous unit in the TCN, that GenCos were asked to shut down units or generate below levels recommended by original equipment manufacturers which had led to the destruction of several units.

“What you see on the grid is different from what the GenCo are ready to generate and put on the grid. Let me explain, each day by 12noon every GenCo is required to inform the ISO how much power it is ready to generate the next day.

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“The ISO collects the data and then allocates loads to the GenCos not minding what you are willing to generate. For instance, Transcorp Power can say we are ready to generate 400MW but later the ISO will call back to say we can only take 200MW or 180MW from you.

“This is done because the grid cannot take all the generation capacity available. If the GenCos defy the ISO and produce more power, the grid will collapse. The claim by TCN that it can transmit 8100MW is not true, the transmission capacity is not more than 5,000MW,” Ogaji added.She pointed out that singling out the GenCos for blame was unfair because the problem was not with the GenCos, stressing that the GenCos were ready to undergo integrity tests to ascertain their capacity in the sector.She said the role of GenCos in the market was to make their machine ready at all times but pointed out the huge debts owed them has often made this impossible.

She added that it was the job of the off-taker, which is the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc, NBET, to ensure that gas fueled plants have enough gas to generate.

“The government should conduct an integrity test but as I said before they should provide gas for the plants, pay them to maintain their machines and on the 1st of June say every operator should power their facility for just one day. We will generate that 9,000MW. Let us see if TCN will be able to transmit that volume or if the DisCos will be able to distribute all the power they will receive.

“Let us do the test for just one day not for a month and let the government determine where the problem is,” she added.

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