BY BABATUNDE RAJI FASHOLA, SAN, MINISTER OF POWER, WORKS AND HOUSING
Since 1950 when the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN), the predecessor of NEPA and PHCN, was created, the maximum energy we have generated stands at 5074 MW was achieved in February 2016 this year.
This is not enough to power a country whose population is in the hundreds of millions and is still growing.
So in answer to the big question, ‘What is the roadmap?’ I say it is getting “incremental power”, in a way that every Megawatt of power must be harnessed and made available to our people.
From “incremental power” we should maybe then seek to deliver “steady power” and from then go on to “uninterrupted power.”
In the quest for incremental power, we must not overlook the things we have done poorly in the past.
They range from improperly erected distribution poles, characterized by poor quality materials, poor workmanship, poor standards by local and foreign contractors who were employed to deliver the services and did not give us value for money.
We must look at cable theft, vandalization of pipelines and transformers, power theft by consumers who use energy without meters or consumers who pay unscrupulous people who help bypass meters.
We must look at court disputes, and protests and those who attack the efficiency of the power system in order to resolve grievances.
We must resolve that these will not happen again in our road map for change.
In our road map to incremental power we are looking at what we have and what we can get out of them.
We have 26 (TWENTY-SIX) power plants (including the AES plant) , 3 (THREE) of the plants are powered by water, the Hydro power plants in Jebba, Kainji and Shiroro.
The remainder are powered by gas.
The total number of turbines which should actually generate power from 25 (TWENTY-FIVE) power plants (excluding AES) is 140 turbines. ( Installed capacity of 12,341MW).
At the best of times only about 78 turbines are generating power which gave us our peak of 5074 MW.
The problems have been identified as either damaged, unmaintained or unserviced turbines in the Hydro power plants, and in the cases of gas plants, it is largely non-availability of gas, coupled with lack of maintenance.
I will illustrate with a few examples.
The Jebba Hydro power plant was commissioned in 1985 by President Buhari with 6 (SIX) turbines to provide 540MW of power; from water energy from Kainji.
In the briefing I received on assumption of office, the turbines were to be overhauled as scheduled maintenance once every 5-6 years. This was never done for 28 years, until it was handed over in 2013, in the aftermath of the privatization.
The first overhaul has now been completed and more will be undertaken. This is incremental power.
In the report recently submitted to my office by the concessionaire of Jebba and Kainji, the total available capacity of the 2 (TWO) plants is 482 MW and 340 MW respectively totaling 822 MW and they plan to get to 1338 MW. This is incremental power.
Egbin Power plant in Ikorodu was delivered in 1985 during the tenure of President Babangida. It had 6 (SIX) turbines with total capacity of 1,320 MW.
When it was handed over in 2013, it had only 2 (Two) functional turbines and just about 400 MW generating capacity.
I was at the plant in December 2015, to switch on Turbine 6, which means all the 6 (SIX) turbines have been restored. This is incremental power.
But these are just examples of the maintenance and technical challenges we grapple with daily in the Government from the President, to the Vice-President, and the Ministry who seek to manage the men and women.
Let me share with you some of the human and administrative challenges, relating to incremental power.
You might recall the announcement of an alleged “commissioning” of a power plant in Edo state by the last administration during the election campaign. This was the Azura power project meant to deliver 450 Megawatts. In reality what took place was only the turning of the sod.
The main activity which were Government securities and guarantees to enable the financing of the project were never issued. This was delayed for about a year.
It was the Buhari administration that prioritized this, resolved it, and work has now started with 422 workers on site and estimated completion date of December 2018. This is the road to incremental power.
You might also recall the Aba Power plant initiated by Prof. Barth Nnaji to generate140 MW and ring fence Aba for dedicated power long before he was ever appointed minister.
He had an agreement which assured him that the plant will never be sold in the event of privatization. This agreement was given by the Government of Nigeria.
The same Government later made another agreement, ignoring the original one, and sold Enugu DisCo to a new owner which included Aba Power.
In the event, none of the parties were to blame.
They had legitimate contracts which were conflicting and issued by the same government.
Instead of spending their energy and resources completing the power plants and delivering electricity, they were forced to spend their resources and energy seeking to untie themselves from the problems created by government since 2013.
This government has waded into the matter, and, through the Vice President, directed our ministry to facilitate reconciliation, and with the cooperation of the parties, their sense of patriotism, we got the parties out-of-court in a settlement three years after.
We are now formalizing their papers so that they can operate independently and collaborate to supply power to Aba and Enugu Distribution that covers most of the East instead of fighting in court.
Solving the problems of yesterday is the road to incremental power.
Other examples are Zungeru Power Plant, meant to deliver 700 MW in Niger state but which was held up in court for several years.
Although the project is now three years behind, the dispute has been resolved, parties are out of court.