The federal government is blaming power distribution firms for power outages in the country as they reject electricity allocated to them to supply consumers
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb. 9, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
POWER firms in Nigeria are deliberately sabotaging the effort of the federal government to improve power supply in the country. The power distribution companies, popularly called the DISCOs are refusing to take all the power allocated to them for onward distribution to consumers. This has worsened power outage in the country. Chinedu Nebo, minister of power blamed the distribution companies for the unending inadequate power supply in the country, wondering why distribution companies would reject power when Nigerians did not have enough supply.
Stating that some of the challenges militating against adequate supply of electricity in Nigeria were deliberate attempts by some people to punish Nigerians, Nebo warned that any company that rejects power allocated to it would be sanctioned by the federal government.
“Do you know that some distribution companies reject power given to them? I had to make a pronouncement that if a distribution company rejects power, it will be penalised. Yes, they reject power. If I name the company, you will be shocked. It is not that they have enough because Nigerians are starving. For weeks, I was climbing the five-story building because they starved me and other ministries. At a time, they said that we were not paying and we turned out to be the only ministry paying for power because others are not paying and everything is lumped together. Even when there is power and all the payments made, we don’t have power. So, I had to invade the company and it was when I called and looked back, I saw that they had already been noted for rejecting power,” the minister said.
According to him, since, that time till now, we have been getting more steady power supply. He also warned against any form of monopoly and unionisation by the distribution companies, adding that any investor that wants to build mini power plants could feed it into the grid but not necessarily the transmission grid. “That is why they distribution companies have to come in because if you are generating only 15MW, you don’t need to go to the transmission grid; you feed it directly. That is, what I mean but then, what if the distribution companies form a union and refuse to pay you enough to sustain you and at the same time, punish Nigerians.”
Despite the challenge the DISCOs pose, the federal government thinks that a strong regulator will help to curb their excesses. “That is why we need a strong regulator, who will be able to tell the Discos that they cannot determine all these things by themselves.
However, the federal government has signed an agreement with American firm, Missouri American Energy, for the construction of a 250 megawatt power plant in the country to boost power generation. Signing the agreement, Nebo said the government was optimistic about the quick completion of the project due to its relatively small capacity.
Nebo, who signed on behalf of the Nigerian government, described the planned injection of 250MW into the national grid by the American energy firm as a feasible feat. A statement from the ministry of power said that when compared with larger power projects, the new power plant would provide energy quicker and boost the provision of power nation-wide. By design, the plant is a thermal power plant and will be cited in Rivers State. “The government is desirous of access to power. Nigerians are hungry for its supply and as such, ready to swallow any amount of energy offered to us,” he said.
According to Nebo, the company’s citing of the gas-fired plant in Rivers State, a hub for gas, was a welcome development, as it would eliminate the threat of vandalism of pipeline to the plant, given the people’s receptive attitude towards public assets. He, therefore, called for investment in such smaller quantum to enable the country quickly realise its vision of access to power. Nebo further advised the firm to cash-in on the provisions of the Power Africa initiative of President Barack Obama, which Nigeria is amongst other first-tranche beneficiary African countries, as well as liaise with General Electric, GE, to firm up a buy-in into its recently launched sponsorship programme for investors in the power sector. He also assured that with this initiative, Nigerians in the shortest possible time would have adequate power supply while assuring government’s support to the investors.
The statement also quoted Henry Iwenofu, president of Missouri American Energy, as urging the government to collaborate and facilitate the execution of the first phase of its project in the country. He explained that the consortium was already discussing with development partners within the power sector to seamlessly execute the project’s phases within its design template.