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Gas Shortage, Weak Transmission Facilities Threaten Power Supply | TheNation


The plan of the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) is to attain 7,235 Mega Watts (MW) of electricity. But gas shortage, line and high frequency-induced constraints have held down power supply to an average of 3,382. JOHN OFIKHENUA writes on the constraints hindering optimal performance.

ABOUT 4,646.9 Mega Watts (MW) of electricity have been lost by the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) to gas shortage, line and high frequency among other constraints. In the face of the drawbacks, the Nigerian Electricity System Operator (SO) of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) could only wheel out 3,382 MW to the 11 Distribution Companies (DisCos). Without the setbacks, the sector would have been supplying about 8,028.9 MW by September 25, 2016, according to the sector’s power performance data.

The latest performance data report said: “On September 25 2016, average power sent out was 3382MWh/hour (down by 38MWh/h). The reported gas constraint was 3,204MW. The reported line constraint was 506.4MW and the reported high frequency constraint is 936.5 MW according to TCN. The water management constraint was 0MW.” In monetary terms, the sector lost an estimated N2, 231, 000, 000 due to the identified constraints.”

The industry announced the following day that it could not generate 2,848MW owing to gas shortage. It added that due to line challenge, it could neither transmit 500.8MW, nor cope with 509.3MW as a result of high frequency constraint. Although there was no water management constraint, the SO sent out 3,227MW to the DisCos. If the sector had not experienced the aforementioned challenges, it would have achieved its targeted 7,235MW last month.

The NESI report explained that the power sector lost an estimated N1, 849, 000, 000 on September 26 due to the hitches.

Investigation by The Nation showed that the three hydroelectric stations generated 1,120 MW on the day under review. The stations are: Kainji (193MW), Jebba (440MW) and Shiroro (487 MW). The 18 gas power plants generated 2,107MW while seven recorded 0MW output.

The gas turbine stations are: Egbin (487MW); Sapele (I 58MW); Delta (314MW); Geregu (I 51MW); Omotosho (I 142MW); Geregu NIPP (39MW); Sapele NIPP (39MW); Alaoji NIPP (97MW); Olorunshogo NIPP (133MW); Omotosho NIPP (87MW); Odukpani NIPP (56MW); Ihovbor NIPP (90MW); Okpai (253MW); AfamVI (110); Ibom (53MW); Omoku (45MW) Trans Amadi (5MW) and Para Energy (41MW).

On September 27, NESI sent out 3,470MW, recorded 2,798MW gas constraint, 596.8MW line constraint and 364.7MW high frequency constraint. Although there was no water management constraint, the challenges caused the power sector a loss of about N1.8 billion. For the challenges, the industry would have recorded 7,229.5MW production.

NESI said: “On September 27, 2016, average power sent out was 3470MWh/hour (up by 243MW. The reported gas constraint was 2798MW. The reported line constraint was 596.8MW and the reported high frequency constraint is 364.7 MW according to TCN. The water management constraint was 0MW. The power sector lost an estimated N1, 805, 000, 000 on September 27 2016 due to constraints.”

Since the DisCos took over the distribution chain, these challenges have been holding down the sector from optimal performance. Not even interventions by the Federal Government have been able to turn the situation around.

The problems

Investigations have shown that sabotage and insufficient funding by the government and investors account for power shortage nationwide.

For months, attacks by militant groups on gas pipelines in the Niger Delta have been accounting for the loss of gas that would have fueled the power plants. The attacks on gas facilities have about 10 gas-fired power plants to record 0MW generation.

At the moment, the sector enjoys 0MW water management constraints level because of the raining season. There is always apprehension that power generation from the hydroelectric stations would reduce as soon as the dams begin to recede.

The (DisCos) and Generation Companies (GenCos) have always blamed the weak transmission of generated power as one of the major setbacks in the power production chain. Though the generation distribution aspects, the Federal Government is still in charge of transmission remains the sole responsibility of the Federal Government through the TCN. But the TCN, accused of being the weakest in the production chain, has turned around to blame the poor power supply on the DisCos.

The blame game blew open on August when its Managing Director Dr. Atiku Abubakar alleged that the distribution companies were rejecting load allocation from the Nigerian Electricity System Operation (SO) for inability to meet up with invoicing for the load to the Market Operator (MO). The TCN is composed of the MO and SO.

He said: “On a final note, let me assure the DisCos and GenCos and the generality of Nigerians that TCN is determined to improve the services so that it does not appear and it is not the weakest link in the power sector value chain.

“At this moment, the weakest link is truly identified; some distribution companies rejecting customers’ loads, thereby throwing them in darkness, resulting in lowering of generation, although we have the capacity to generate more.”

Although he declined to name the DisCos that were rejecting load, Atiku said the TCN has the capacity to transfer more power to the companies.

Insisting that some players in the distribution chain rejected more load, Atiku said: “I will say yes, it is still happening. I don’t want to mention the distribution companies that are guilty but they know themselves. Most of them are load shedding 11Kv feeder for two, three hours simply because they cannot pay to the Market Operator or to the System Operator the invoice that is given to them for what they consume. So, they use that method to deny customers power. But I want to make it clear that we know because the System Operator monitors on 24 hours basis.”

The Nation investigation however revealed that the the TCN has to double its capacity to prove that it can wheel the more electricity from the GenCos to the DisCos.

A source in one of the DisCos, who spoke in confidence, said that the TCN lacks the capacity to push out 5,500MW as being claimed. According to source, for the transmission company to buttress its claim, it must double its capacity to evacuate what is presently being generated.

It said: “If our national generation is 5,000 or 6,000MW, the transmission cannot carry it. I can say that one confidently. The international standard in engineering practice is that transmission should be able to do two times what generation is having.

“In other words, if generation capacity is 10,000MW, transmission should be able to wheel 20,000MW. But in Nigeria, that is not the situation. And we all know very clearly that Niger Delta has been a major problem to us. So, where did they get the load from?”

Blame game

Reacting to the allegation, the DisCos under the umbrella of Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), said that the companies were losing an average of N1 billion monthly as a result of the limited capacity of the TCN in different parts of the country, especially in the Northern areas.

The association’s Executive Director, Research & Advocacy, Sunday Olurotimi Oduntan, said in a statement: “Even worse is TCN’s inability to meet its financial obligations, relative to this shortfall, thereby compromising the DisCos’ ability to meet their obligations to the Market Operator.

“DisCos are currently experiencing a monthly loss in excess of N1 billion due to limited transmission capacities in various areas of the country (especially the northern part). Even worse, is TCN’s inability to meet its financial obligations, relative to this shortfall, thereby compromising the DisCos’ ability to meet their obligations to the Market Operator.”

ANED’s response contained in a rejoinder, described the TCN as “the weakest link and an old NEPA.”

The GenCos have been worse hit by the militants’ attacks on gas pipelines. The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC), Oladele Amoda, lamented that the company with a customer population of 446,200 (as at August 2016) is currently being allocated 11 per cent of generation output (less international customers) from the grid in line with provisions of Multi-Year Tariff Order II (MYTO II).

He told the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) monitoring team that visited the company in Lagos that the load allocation currently ranges from about 250MW to 350MW, which is about 500MW lower than the DisCos’ estimated suppressed demand.

Amoda explained that to meet the shortfall in the power allocation, EKEDC is in the “process of leveraging embedded generation to urgently improve supply to major load centers.”

Asked to comment on the state of TCN and its challenges in a telephone conversation, its spokesperson Mrs. Seen Olagunju, who said she was attending a conference demanded to know who was speaking with her through an SMS.

She never replied even when our correspondent introduced himself to her.

DisCoS worry

over tariff

Low tariff, according to the DisCos, is partly accountable for low investment in the sector. As investors craved for increase in tariff early in the year, other stakeholders, particularly the consumers, the National Assembly and organised labour, protested the increase. The case is in court as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is contesting the position of a Lagos High Court invalidated tariff increase on July 13. An attractive tariff from the MYTO, which the judgment affected, provides for a long-term path of determining in advance, what investment in the sector would be as most would-be-investors predicate their decisions.

Ruling in a suit filed by a human rights lawyer, Mr Toluwani Adebiyi, challenging the increment, Justice Mohammed Idris described the NERC’s action ultra vires, irrational, irregular and illegal.

Low tariff which the DisCos attributed to low investment in the power sector is also responsible for their inability to provide transformers and meters. But NERC has mandated them to meter all customers by December 1.

The commission had in June warned the companies that it would sanction them if they fail to provide meters for all categories of on their network before November 30.

NERC’s Chairman Dr. Anthony Akah told the companies that any customer willing to subscribe to the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Initiative (CAPMI) during the moratorium period should be allowed to do so.

The NERC’s directive was contained in a statement. It reads: “The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has said that its directives to electricity distribution companies (DisCos) to meter their maximum demand customers not later than November 30, 2016 was without prejudice to provide meters to all classes of electricity customers in line with their performance agreement.

“The acting Chairman, NERC, Dr. Anthony Akah while providing further insight into the directives to DisCos to meter their MD customers said that default will attract sanctions beginning December 1, 2016.

“He explained that electricity distribution companies are expected to provide meter for all maximum demand meter customers on their networks not later than November 30, 2016 and that any MD customer willing to subscribe to the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Initiative (CAPMI) during the moratorium period should be allowed. All DisCos have performance agreement which include their metering plans.”

The Nation could not get the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) position on the efforts being made to ensure regular gas supply to the product’s end-users.

The NNPC spokesman, Garba Deen Muhammad, declined reply to a SMS from our correspondent.

Nigeria, which generates the bulk of its power from gas fired plants, may not enjoy abundant supply until the bombing and destruction of pipelines ceases and the TCN expands its capacity.

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