Independent Electricity Distribution Networks in Nigeria, matters arising – Engr. Idowu Oyebanjo
The Nigerian Power System is progressing, albeit slowly but surreptitiously, towards a next phase where Independent Electricity Distribution Networks (IEDN) will play a part.
With the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) approving the application of Ibom Utility Company to distribute electricity in Akwa Ibom State on Friday, 20th of January 2023, Ibom Power Company Limited has secured, in addition to its existing generating licence, an opportunity to become an embedded generation within the network that belongs to Port-Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC).
This sets the stage for moving the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) towards a model where Generators can also own distribution licences.
This model, which obviously is in response to the dismal performance of the Privatisation exercise almost over a decade ago, is a step in the right direction and in line with the power sector roadmap.
This is in addition to what we have in Geometric Power embedded generation in Aba metropolis and also within the PHEDC network franchise area. Konexa in Kaduna and Mainstream Energy in Yola are towing the same line.
It can be expected that the electricity market will move towards bilateral arrangements judging by the policy drives of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission such as the Eligible Customer (EC), “Partial Activation of Contracts” (PAC), Embedded Generation (EG), Independent Electricity Distribution Networks (IEDN) and more. Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC) pioneered a premium service supply to Magodo Phase 2 in 2019 in what was described as a “Willing Buyer, Willing Seller” Bilateral Power Service to customers in the niche part of its network.
Since then, more choice areas have embraced the premium service arrangement in the IKEDC network franchise area. Bilateral Power arrangements seem to be about to kick off and take root in the NESI.
Once approval has been granted by NERC to any of the licencees to implement some of the above frameworks or strategies, investors need to ascertain the health status of the asset and invest in network infrastructural development that will enable value for money.
Accurate data gathering, metering and proper asset management will be a good start. Knowing where the assets are as well as their health indices will suffice.
The most important asset that needs working on is human capital. There will be a need to invest in training of existing and new staff, as oftentimes, utilities tend to forget about training and it’s so hugely important.
A pertinent issue that requires urgent attention is the connection of embedded Generation to the distribution network. Such connections, if they run in parallel with the main distribution network, must be disconnected when there is a system fault on the main distribution network to which they are connected.
Otherwise, such an embedded generation will continue to “feed the fault” and kill people. This can be achieved using Loss of Mains protection such as ROCOF and Vector Shift relays.
The distribution code should reflect this as a condition for the connection of such a Generation. This will apply to Negris’ connection in Lagos, Geometric Power in Aba, Mainstream in Yola, Egbin Power in Lagos, Konexa and Kudenda Power in Kaduna, NNPC in the Maiduguri Emergency Power Project (MEPP), Ibom Power in Akwa Ibom and many others that will spring up!
NERC must be commended for coming up with strategies that aim to optimize the available resources in the sector for the purpose of providing electricity to consumers.
Engr Idowu Oyebanjo PhD, Chief Technical Officer, FGN Power Company of Nigeria and CEO of Idfon Power Engineering Consultants (iPEC) Limited. As a Chartered Power System Protection Engineer, Engr. Oyebanjo is involved in the design of protection schemes for Power System Plants such as Transformers, Cables, Overhead Lines, Busbars, etc on the electricity network. He has a strong background in Power System Studies required for the planning and protection of power systems – Power Flow, Power system Stability, Earthing Studies, Economic dispatch, System Modelling, etc using Network Analysis tools.