Electricity theft continues to cause massive losses in the Nigerian power sector and now stakeholders have strengthened Efforts to curb the incidence of energy theft in the power sector. This stems from the on going investigation of the collusion by some staff, customers and meter manufacturers to bypass meters under some of the areas covered by the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company.
This development along with significant progress in ongoing electricity generation and transmission projects execution across the country were some of the highlights captured in the Communique of the 15th Monthly Meeting of the Power Sector Operators presided over by the Minister of Power Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, at the NIPP Injection Substation, Lamingo, Jos.
According to the Communiqué, “Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company noted that collusion by some of its staff, customers and meter manufacturers to bypass meters has been reported to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and is under investigation.”
The Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) also announced the completion of host community connection projects in Magboro, which is currently undergoing testing by Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company and the progress being made in the community connections in Egbema, Okija, Oronta, Ihiala, and Nnewi in the South-East as reported by NTA news
On its part, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) reported that Katampe 60MVA substation in Abuja was restored on April 11, 2017 and the 40 MVA mobile substation in Damboa, Borno State was commissioned on May 7, 2017, while the Makeri to Pankshin 132kV line in Plateau and Okpella line in Edo State were both expected to be switched on in August 2017 adding that the installation of new circuit breaker in Egbin was scheduled for commissioning on May 19, 2017.
In the area of customer service, while the Nigerian Electrical Regulatory Company (NERC) announced its intention to reduce the number of days required to access electricity connections in new buildings from an estimated 198 to 30 days through a regulatory Order to be released shortly, Jos Electricity Distribution Plc (JED) reported on complaints on fast reading meters in its coverage areas which were forwarded to the Minister and agreed to resolve the issues to the satisfaction of consumers.
Hope of a boost in liquidity in the sector rose also as the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET) reported on international customer payments, stating that the Republic of Niger (NIGELEC) and Republic of Benin (CEB) had made payments for power of $159,773, 116.61, with a combined balance still outstanding of $92,315,986.20, adding that payments had been duly remitted to the Generating Companies and Service Providers who, it said, had provided the generation and transmission services.
In the same vein, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Power, and Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to paying verifiable power debts, and announced the completion of physical verification of the top 100 MDA locations in Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) with plans to visit Eko and Ikeja DisCos for physical verification as a prelude to payment.
In terms of payment performance for service provision among the DisCos, the Market Operator reported that Eko DisCo was the best performer at 89 per cent while Kaduna DisCo recorded the worst performance at 13 per cent.
And in terms of registration as power market participants amongst DisCos, Abuja Electricity Company, APL Electricity Company, Kaduna Electricity Company and Geometric Power have not completed registration while amongst GenCos, Delta Power, Okpai, Omoku and NIPP plants are yet to complete registration.
In the Communiqué, the operators, who noted that the Monthly Meeting serves as forum for Providing an opportunity to inspect electricity assets and for power sector decision makers to take critical decisions in unison to move the sector forward as well as providing correct sector information to the public noted that while the first and second objectives had been largely achieved, the third had not been achieved.
Blaming it on the inaccurate information often disseminated by the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) regarding the plan to escrow accounts earlier agreed by the DisCos themselves as a condition before accessing low priced loans from the Federal Government, the Communiqué averred that by failing to mention the fact that the conditions of the loans were not mandatory, but were terms of the credit facility, information advertised by ANED were misleading.
Additionally, the Communiqué stated, lack of corporate governance displayed by some DisCos, evidenced by failing to provide audited accounts, improved services and urgent response to customer complaints, meters and network investment had shown inconsistencies in DisCo statements, pointing out that the Federal Government had expended income to verify any claims accurately made against them, to the knowledge of the DisCos.
The meeting also noted that the failure of Distribution Companies to remit payment as owed to NBET led to the approval by the Federal Government of Nigeria of N701billion Payment Assurance Guarantee to Generating Companies, to fill the payment gap.
Expressing regrets over the electrical accident which occurred on April 20, 2017 in Calabar, Cross River State for which it observed a moment of silence, the Meeting reiterated the need to prioritize safety regulations and emphasized the need for the support of the sector regulators.