(Survey) How power supply can get better — Consumers, Discos, others

2 years ago | 26

A Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ilorin, Olumuyiwa Lasode, has canvassed for renewable energy to tackle the country’s power challenge. According to him, turning to renewable energy sources will ensure that the energy needs of Nigerians are met while fast tracking industrial growth as well as socio-economic development. Lasode’s suggestion comes as respondents in the South-West, South-East and South South zones of the country, in a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) national survey on challenges of power generation and distribution in the country, expressed different views on the present situation in their areas. “In order to boost electricity supply to rural areas to stimulate development, off-grid hybrid electricity generation stations, comprising mini-hydropower, solar photovoltaic cells, wind turbine and bio-fuel generators, should be built in areas with multiple energy resources. “There is gradual shift toward the exploitation of renewable energy resources by many nations so as to increase the percentage share of the energy mix. “Nations and economic blocs set targets in relation to the form of energy that works best for them based on the comparative advantage they have in the exploitation of their resources,” he said. Respondents in the NAN survey, beyond sources of energy,  identify problems in the chain from power generation to distribution as areas where many gaps need to be closed. They list paucity of funds, vandalism, poor generation, huge unpaid bills and poor infrastructure as factors that have worsened the poor power situation in the country. Mr Ayodeji Bada, Regional Communication Officer, Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), Ogun region, told NAN that funding remains a major challenge confronting his company. Bada said in Abeokuta that paucity of funds had continued to hinder the firm’s capacity to supply power effectively in Ogun and its environs. He also disclosed that within the last two months,  over 40 transformer sub stations were vandalised within the region, adding that “such situation will definitely affect electricity supply to customers.” “The security agencies are doing their bit. but we need the support of all our customers to protect our installations so that we can curb this menace,” he said. He also complained of huge unpaid bills, saying the development was crippling operations. “We are appealing to customers to always settle our bills immediately they receive them because it is this money that we use to invest back into the business to meet up with all their demand. ” Without this, it will be difficult for IBEDC to meet up with customers’ demand. The Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC)in Ekiti, on its part, attributed the situation in the state to the limited power available for distribution from the national grid. It also said that serial debtors and vandalism were also challenging as the company’s strove to meet the power needs in the state. The Public Relations Officer of the company in Ekiti, Mr Kayode Brown, said bills owed the company ran into millions. Brown said another major problem facing the company in the state was the unrelenting acts of vandals. He expressed optimism that power supply would improve as soon as the company was able to tackle the challenges confronting it, especially those of unpaid bills and vandalism. Disturbed by the poor power supply to Ado Ekiti, and other major towns had for some time now, the state government recently issued a demand notice to Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), asking for a 330 KV Power Substation in Ekiti as permanent solution to poor electricity supply to the state. The Commissioner for Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Mr Bamidele Faparusi, told NAN that TCN ought to build the 330KVA Power Substation in the state as a matter of right to shore up electricity supply. He claimed that Ekiti was currently about the only state being denied a 330 KVA Substation. ” We are having serious challenges because we have no full control of how electricity is supplied ” It is unfortunate that it is now private driven and as such, the focus of the DISCOS is to make profit. ” But we have to be fair to our people as well. “One major bottleneck we have established as a government has been inadequate allocation of power from the national grid to Ekiti ” We are getting only 20 megwatts which is grossly inadequate to distribute to the people across the state and this is why BEDC is helpess,” he said. In Ibadan, Mr Shadrack Akinbodunse, Principal Partner, Utilities Consumers Rights Advocacy Initiative of Nigeria, claimed that electricity distribution companies were deliberately not evacuating electricity for fear of consumers not paying. He, however, said that there should be no basis for not evacuating and distributing electricity if DISCOS had provided meters for consumers. “Metering is supposed to be free. It is part of the contractual agreement. A lot of consumers who have paid for meters are yet to collect it because the DISCOS enjoy using estimated billings,” he said. Akinbodunse alleged that consumers had been ” paying for both darkness and light,” saying many had not been getting value for their money. He, however, suggested that the sale of the legacy outfits of PHCN to DISCOS should not be voided without review. Akinbodunse urged the National Assembly to intervene to ensure a proper review of the sales agreement. Some artisans,  who spoke with NAN in Osogbo, said they were paying for  electricity they did not consume. One of them, Mr Adedayo Godwin, a welder in Osogbo, said IBEDC needed to do more to improve on its services. ” IBEDC must also  do away with  estimated bills. The estimated billing is killing our business and something urgent must be done,” Godwin said. Electricity consumers, in some states in the South-South Zone, in the survey, are also yearning for a better deal, saying DISCOs can do better. But representatives of DISCOs allege that revenue losses over meter bypass by customers and inadequate power generation posed serious challenges to power supply in their areas of operation. The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) says it has incurred huge revenue losses to meter bypass and energy theft by some customers in four states where it operates. Mr John Onyi, Manager of Corporate Communications, PHED, told NAN that huge revenue losses had affected the company’s drive to expand its electricity network. “Aside meter bypass and energy theft, the company is currently encountering several challenges in our operations. “PHED has been faced with inadequate funding and non-payment of bills by customers which has resulted in huge debt owed the company. “Similarly, vandalism of our facilities; ownership mentality; harassment by community leaders and limitation from the national grid are some of the problems that we are facing,’’ Onyi said. The PHED spokesperson said the company’s contractual agreement with Federal Government had yet to expire. He said that the company was expanding its network to enable more customers have access to uninterrupted electricity supply in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers states. Similarly, the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), said one of the major problems confronting the distribution of power by various DISCOs was the inadequate power generation to the National Grid. Mr Tayo Adekunle, the Head, Public Affairs at BEDC, told NAN in Benin: “For a country with a population of about 200 million to share 5,000MW among the Discos, you discover that what is available was not sufficient to be given to consumers. “The situation has led to BEDC to start load management shedding to three hours in and three hours out to enable power to get to every consumer “This is also affecting the payment of bills by consumers because they only want to pay for what they consume,” he said. Adekunle also explained that energy theft through meter bypass and illegal connection was also responsible for poor distribution of power in BEDC franchise states. In the South-East, the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) which provides power for the five South East states of Abia, Anambra, Imo, Enugu and Ebonyi also has its story to tell. The company decried the high level of vandalism, energy theft and customers’ apathy to payment for electricity use within the area, citing them as factors affecting the effective distribution in the zone. The Head of Communications in EEDC, Mr Emeka Ezeh, however, said in Enugu that despite these challenges the company had been able to deliver an average of 20 hours daily of electricity with some variation in some areas in the South-East. Ezeh said that the company also contended with meter by-pass and assault on its staff that go to carry out their legitimate duties in premises of some customers. “On the company’s part, notwithstanding our funding challenge and other challenges; we have been able to continue to buy bulk electricity and serve our customers to the tune of about 20 hours per day during optimal performance. “Our customers can help the company ensure that this relative constant electricity supply remains by tracking and apprehending or reporting those in their neighourhoods that engage in illegal activities of meter by-pass, vandalism and energy theft. “Apart from rare national network issues; local issues of activities of illegal persons tampering with household or neighbourhood electrical equipment and installation have been on the increase in the South-East. “We are soliciting the cooperation of security agencies, local vigilante groups as well as residents to ensure that these evil people do not throw an entire neighbourhood into perpetual darkness,’’ he appealed. Ezeh, however, called on customers still in the estimated billing system to take advantage of the Federal Government’s Meter Asset Provider (MAP) scheme to get prepaid meters within 10 working days once they apply for it. A resident of Uwani area, Mr Paul Okafor, said that there had been improvement in electricity supply from three to six hours previously to about 15 to 20 hours in the past three months, including having it the evening and night hours. Okafor, who is a civil servant, said that estimated billing system had, however, remained a challenge and he paid an average of N10,000 monthly. “I have also applied for the pre-paid meter through the MAP programme and I believe soon I will say bye-bye to estimated billing,’’ he said. NAN -Sep 30, 2019 @14:45 GMT |

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