NERC queries PHCN, 5 Power plants over load shedding

*As power outages grow worse in FCT

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

14 October, 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA -The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has warned its licensees that massive load shedding of their customers without approval from it violates the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act 2005 and that appropriate sanctions will henceforth be meted on erring organization.

This warning is coming on the heels of load shedding of 1,400mega watts that started on Tuesday involving five power plants. The load shedding that will last seven days is without the Commission’s approval.

A letter dispatched on Wednesday to Chief Executive Officer of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the Executive Director, System Operator (SO), Transmission Company of Nigerian and chief executive officers of Geregu, Sapele, Ughelli, Olorunsogo, and Omotosho Power Plants warned of the grave consequences of their actions.

The Commission told the affected officers to explain why they are operating in contempt of the Act, the Grid Codes that governs the national grid and the Market Rules that guides Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI). The Rules stipulate that massive load shedding require the Commission’s permission.

Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, in the letter says, “While we are not opposed to the maintenance work on gas facilities or PHCN generating and transmitting stations, the Commission will not allow the flagrant violation of due process and procedures especially as it relates to disruption of power supply to Nigerians.

“You are to note that henceforth appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against all licensees and their management for any violation of the Grid Code and Market Rules particularly the need for submission of outage and maintenance plans.

“For avoidance of doubt, in the event of a planned outage in the future you must get approval from NERC, the only regulator of the sector,” the Commission warned.

The Commission‘s tough stance on the management of the affected power plants and PHCN was as a result of their failure to secure statutory approval for the plant shut down occasioned by the decision of the gas suppliers- the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) to carry out repairs on its systems.

The affected power plants and management of PHCN had earlier in the week announced they will shut down their plants for seven days beginning from Tuesday, October 11, 2011.

Meanwhile, power outages in and around the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, continue to grow worse, with sections of the city not having electric power for days.

Residents from across the city have been left in distress over the load shedding plan embarked upon by the PHCN which has seen part of the city thrown into darkness, even as power authorities attempt to find solutions to the outages.

The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) had announced plans to shut down five power plants across the country, a plan that will drastically reduce the present state of power generation.

The announcement, which was made last week by the Company may likely hurt the Federal Government’s ambitions to attain about 5,000 megawatts of electricity by the end of December, 2011.

Only a few weeks ago, the government celebrated the achievement of over 4,050 MW, marking the highest quantum of electricity generated in the history of the nation.

According to the statement by PHCN, it “regrets to inform its esteemed customers nationwide of the notice received from Nigeria Gas Company Limited (NGC) of the planned shutdown of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Utorogu and Ughelli East Gas Plants, Oben, Sapele and Ogharefe gas plants of Saplet and Pan Ocean for maintenance purposes.

“This will be for a period of seven (7) days commencing Tuesday, 11 October, 2011.”

The maintenance according to NGC will lead to complete shutdown of Geregu, Sapele, Ughelli, Omotosho and Olorunsogo power stations throughout the duration of the exercise, thus resulting to a cut back in generation of over 1400MW.

It added that, “This loss of generation will entail minimal load shedding in many parts of the country.

“We therefore appeal to our valued customers and other stakeholders for understanding and support, while assuring that power supply situation will considerably improve once gas supply is restored to these stations.”

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  • I love the idea. But lets bring it down to current rleiiteas in this Nigeria we live in 1. Most Nigerians switch on their gen set in the evenings, and this would limit the effective supply of electricity to the grid during the day.2. The poor management structure of the NERC would deter people from hooking their gen-sets to the grid (It is stress receiving money from the large Nigerian establishments, unless you know “somebody” ).3. If this thing works at kickoff, you can expect Nigerians to drop their gen-sets later on; they will assume that everyone else will switch theirs on.4. Alhaji (downstairs) actually likes the idea that the neighbors do not have light. How would they prove they are wealthier than the next man? Nevertheless, I still like the idea.