Frequent grid failure: Decentralize transmission network, honour gas supply agreement with GenCos – Experts warn FG

 

Solomon Ezeme

Frequent power system collapse across Nigeria is likely to continue until the Federal Government decentralizes the transmission and distribution networks, settles outstanding invoices and  fulfills gas supply agreements to electricity generation companies (GenCos).

These were some of the major solutions  suggested by experts to the FG to tackle the incessant power crisis facing the country.

Abubakar Aliyu, Minister of Power,  at a recent Power roundtable discussion session organised by Nextier Power Dialogue, in Abuja, insisted that current dip in electricity generation was as a result of the partial shutdown of most gas plants due to the repair of critical gas processing equipment, planned maintenance and capacity testing.

He also noted that Jebba and Kainji hydro dams are down due to the low water level usually associated with the dry season.  He claimed that the government’s effort to expand the grid network has also been hampered by communities who have taken pleasure in denying the Tranmission Company of Nigeria(TCN) the right of way to transmission projects.

The minister noted that the Presidential Power Initiative is one of the major investments that will improve and stabilize electricity supply in partnership with Siemens Energy.

EnergyDay recently reported that a technical fault occurred within the electricity supply network which led to national blackout on Sunday. While it is about the fifth time such would be happening in 2022, experts have revealed that the recurring failures, call for serious restructuring in the power sector.

They said the power crisis keeps expanding the base of  Nigerians who do not have access to electricity supply, and hampering business growth and operations. They also called on the Federal Government to honour its own side of the deal to enable some of the gas-fired generating plants to optimally operate.

Mr Andrew Johnson, an energy industry expert who is also the Project Manager, Senior at Oskajo & Partners Ltd, in a chat with EnergyDay identified gas challenges at the generation plants as the major reasons for the frequent faults on the grid.

He stated that lack of adequate gas supply to plants has been a major problem GenCos face regularly.

According to him, many of the gas-fired power plants in the country, including the 1,320MW Egbin Power Station, are usually forced to shut down operations due to low gas supply.

He explained that the sudden shut down of operations by the GenCos, consequently, affects the power grid which then develops faults.

Mr. Andrew noted that some of the GenCos are incapacitated due to the inability of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET)  to settle outstanding invoices for electricity generated.

Another major reason for frequent collapse is GenCos’ regular  plant shut-down without notification to the operators of Oshogbo control center. This according to him makes it difficult for the System Operator to plan for load shedding and outages.

He said, “Transmission is not the challenge. The Gencos and Discos are the problem. As of today, the transmission backbone has been expanded far above the Gencos’ and Discos’ capacities.

Tope Fasua, Founder and CEO of Global Analytics Consulting Limited who is also an economist and public policy expert, advised the government to decentralize power generation and distribution by allowing the private sector to fully take over the operations of the GenCos and DisCos.

“I think it is clear that we need a new strategy as regards the energy sector in Nigeria.

“One of the best suggestions I have heard recently is that we should begin to further decentralize the generation and distribution of energy,” he said.

He recommended the establishment of more  GenCos and DisCos to increase electricity supply to Nigerians and the competitiveness in the power supply chain.

“What that means is that there’s a need for new DisCos and GenCos to serve smaller areas and take the burden off the existing ones. I hope that the contract they signed does not bar the Federal Government from doing that,” he said.