Much ado about stranded 4,000Mw of electricity

Experts are divided over the reported 4,000 stranded generated electricity in the power sector, writes AKINOLA AJIBADE

The power industry is replete with irregular power supply, estimated bills, lack of meters by Meter Asset Providers (MAPs) and new electricity tariffs.

The latest problem is stranded 4,000 megawatts (Mw). But experts are divided over the existence of the problem, with some saying it couldnt be.

Niger Delta Power Holding Company of Nigeria (NDPHC) Managing Director Mr. Chiedu Ugbo described the development as unfortunate, adding that the country is struggling to meet the electricity needs of its people.

Shedding more light on the issue during the inauguration of transmission substations in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Ugbo said about 4,000Mw of electricity was stranded. He attributed the problem to poor infrastructural facilities. He noted that the development informed the decision by NDPHC to open the commissioned transmission substations, among other facilities, across the country.

Ugbo said NDPHC contributes about 37 per cent of power to the national grid.

Penultimate week, the Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC) provided a fresh insight into the issue. The association, which represents the six power generation firms unbundled from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), said the major problem facing the sector is unutilised generated electricity and not shortage of gas.

Its Executive Secretary, Dr Joy Ogaji, said the problem of stranded electricity was affecting the sector with ripple effects on other parts of the economy. The effects, she said, were multidimensional as aspects of the industry are in one way or the other affected by the development.

Ogaji told The Nation on the phone that the inability of the electricity distribution companies (DisCos) to take the stranded generated electricity to consumers was a big problem.

Already, the sector is battling poor generation as it is finding difficult to achieve the industry capacity of 13,000Mw of electricity.

Ogaji said the issue has slowed down economic activities as well as inhibited growth. The problem in the industry is beyond shortage of gas. Rather, the problem is about increase in the volume of unutilised electricity in the sector, she said.

The problems, Ogaji said, have stalled generation of electricity. She said power generation firms lacked funding and as a result are unable to meet the cost of production of electricity.

She added that the firms do not get incentives to improve their output, a development, which she claimed, has negatively impacted on the sector.

However, the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), Mr Sunday Oduntan, said the 4,000Mw of electricity was not stranded in the sector.

He said this was because the GenCos were battling with gas and transmission constraints.

He said the GenCos actual capacity was 5,000Mw with generation averaging below 4,000Mw, adding that there was no way such huge volume would get stranded.

Observers argued that shortage of gas had frustrated the efforts of the firms to produce electricity optimally. The shortage, they said, had led to the loss of 2,219Mw of electricity this month. They said a total of 2,219Mw of electricity could not be generated on the national grid between October 1 and October 7 as a result of unavailability of gas to the thermal plants.

The Advisory Power Team in the Office of the Vice President corroborated these assertions, saying that from the first day of this month, the industry kept on losing power due to gas shortage.

Between October 1 and 5, it said, the non-availability of gas supply to the thermal plants stalled the generation of 2,157.5 Mw, 2,103Mw, 2,238Mw, 2,173Mw and 1,878 MW.

Also, on October 14, 15, 16 and 17, gas unavailability stopped the generation of 2,172.6 Mw, 1,635.5Mw, 1,551Mw and 1,674Mw of electricity.

Also, the General Manager, National Control Centre, Osogbo, Mr Emmanuel Omoh, said it would be wrong to link the issue of stranded electricity to the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), beccause the Federal Government has improved transmission facilities.

Omoh said: Our capacity has been strengthened. At the moment, TCN has the capacity to transmit between 8,000 Mw and 9,000 Mw of electricity. The distribution companies have affirmed that TCN has greatly improved on its facilities. Over 40 per cent of power generation units have been shut down because of load-shedding from the DisCos.

 

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