The last quarter of 2017 was not mediocre in any bit as regards the power sector. There was a whole lot of activities, policies, implementations and innovations. The Power Sector Reform Program (PSRP) which has been the vehicle of change, right from the privatization of the power sector till date has got its own shortcomings. Several policies embedded in the reform program meant to be carried out by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Generation Companies (GENCOS), Distribution Companies (DISCOS), Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET), Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) among others are geared at improving the power sector. Although to the consumers, the Power Sector Reform is just a written prophecy reminding them of a period of adequate power supply that is to come, hopefully.
To a large extent, the actions by these agencies have directly or indirectly affected the power sector on different fronts, some of the effects might be noticeable while others negligible. Not until these policies amount to a tangible increase in power supply in the premises of consumers they remain ineffective.
In this report, we access the on-goings in the power sector within the last quarter of 2017 with reviews on recent developmental strides as well as flaws that has bewildered the power sector reform program. On the perspective of developmental strides we have noticeable attempts like;
- N701 billion guarantee for the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET). This funding which is to be provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in phases has served as a power assurance guarantee for NBET in delivering on its public private partnership responsibility with the GenCos.
- NEMSA commenced a nationwide evaluation of 33/11KV injection substations with supply source from 330/1332/33KV transmission substation and primary 33KV feeder lines. This exercised commenced on 18th October, 2017.
- The Azura power plant went on-line. The 459MW capacity Azura -Edo power plant came partially on-line with one of its three 153MW GT-11 generation turbines been synchronized to the national grid.
- NERC made stiffer sanctions on power theft. This was done to sanitize the distribution networks, among others.
- The NBET funding made it possible to effect the payment of gas supplied to the GenCos and was also used in clearing the invoices of the GenCos. This had in-turn led to surmounting the huge gas constraint faced by the GenCos in the past.
- The NEMSA exercise increased the efficiency of the distribution facilities, identified high-risk defective networks that posed some serious threats and reduced the rate of incessant power outages among others.
- Transmission recorded an all time peak value of 5,222.3MW in December as against the previous transmission peak of 5,074.7MW obtained in February 2016. In same December other peak values of 5,156MW, 5,103MW and 5, 007MW were also recorded.
- The DisCos capitalized on NERC sanctions to enact the “loss of revenue” billing for power theft perpetrators.
In the same vain, as Kudos are given for the seemingly positive achievements of the power reforms, knocks should also be awarded for the shortcomings of the reform programs with respect to its implementation in the last quarter of 2017. The aforementioned results are yet be felt by the common consumer because it is still unable to solve his recurrent electricity woes, hence it is not a far cry to say that the reform program (PSRP) is not as encompassing as it should be. There are obvious loopholes in which several agencies have capitalized to be the yardstick for their lackluster performances. If such loopholes can be quickly address, then, just maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel for Nigerians, otherwise, it would be a gradual plunge into eminent darkness. The major issues that has been deprived of immediate attention and is fast eating up the positive achievements of the reforms includes;
- TRANSMISSION CAPACITY – There have been several calls to improve on the transmission capacity across the nation, but all we get are assurances from the agencies in charge of these improvements. The national grid ought to be able to transmit as much as twice the generation capacity of the GenCos, but its the other way around. transmission capacity is presently lower than our generation capacity. So in essence, what’s the need of generating more power (as embedded in the PSRP), when we can transmit the power generated. This would in-turn combine to the present issue of STRANDED POWER
- STRANDED POWER – It is no longer shocking news that there is a stranded 2,000MW of energy yet to be transmitted to end users. Electricity consumers are yearning for increased power supply, but we have untapped power that we cant dispose. There are rural communities that have been out of supply since the privatization of the power sector, or worst case scenario have never received electricity supply.
- PROPOSED HIKE IN ELECTRICITY TARIFF – The news of a potential increase in electricity bills code named “cost reflective tariff” got more intense within the last quarter of 2017, when prominent stakeholders noted that its inevitable. Nevertheless, it might seem to be the step in the right direction, but it’s a shock to consumers who are presently complaining on the current tariffs. It seems the reform program didn’t anticipate an introduction of a cost reflective tariff in the nearest future. in this light, it seems darkness is looming as consumers might not be able to afford electricity.
- METERING WOES – This is the most consistent problem consumers of electricity are facing presently, it is root cause of inefficient billing (under and over billing) and its shocking that its still not yet properly addressed by the agencies in charge. The DisCos have obviously failed in metering their customers and the regulatory bodies have thrown blind eyes to this. In addressing this NERC had said it’s making plans on introducing authorized metering companies to partner with respective DisCos in metering their customers, since the DisCos have failed in this regard. But all these as earlier stated are just “plans” we re yet to see confirmation. Some customers have resulted to staying in darkness or finding an alternative source of power till they are metered, as this is currently the only way out of excessive billing.
- INCESSANT CALL TO ORDER, PROTEST AND LICENCE REVOCATION – several right groups have called for the revocation of the privatization of the power sector, others have called for the withdrawal of the licenses of some DisCos. this is because of the poor services and the excesses of the DisCos, the rate at which consumers organize protests is on the increase. This alone is enough evidence to depict the failure of the reform program in the eyes of the consumers.
These among others have been consistent issues being faced by customers within the last quarter of 2017. some customers now prefer to be shut-out of supply or are unwillingly disconnected from supply. Regardless of the increase in generated power and record breaking transmission values these customers would remain in darkness. It seems the downstream power sector is presently being neglected, this on the other hand could be intentional as plans might be on ground to urgently savage the current situation, or it could be an oversight of reform program.
Irrespective of whatever basis these pestilent issues have remained unattended to, the earlier they are tackled the better for everyone. It is therefore expedient for all stakeholders to put heads together to find a lasting solution to these woes in the nearest future so Nigerians can be assured of the light at the end of the tunnel. A reform that cannot literally amount to a significant increase in electricity supply across the nation is one that should be subject to review, otherwise, we just might be en route to darkness.