24 September 2013, Lagos – Lagos State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr. Taofiq Tijani, spoke to select journalists on the activities lined up for the state government’s energy conservation month and the poor electricity supply to the state, which has resulted in the consumption of 162,000 litres of diesel per day, and emission of large quantity of carbon dioxide in the state. Excerpts:
What are the critical milestones attained in the efforts of the Lagos State Government to improve the energy supply situation to the people of the state?
In realisation of the critical role power plays not only in industrialisation but even in the delivery of basic services such as health, legal, security and educational services to mention but a few, the present administration opted to make a bold intervention in the sector.
The case for an intervention in the power sector became perhaps more compelling by the result of a power audit initiated by us. That exercise during which over 13,000 residential, commercial and industrial buildings were audited revealed that just a little over 10per cent of the power needs of Lagosians was being met from the national grid.
The practice of self-generation translates to a total consumption of approximately 162,000 litres of diesel per day resulting in an alarming 178lbs of carbon dioxide emission per household per day in Lagos. So, we were persuaded our intervention was needful. We were however conscious of the fact that our intervention must never be seen as yet another quick fix intrusion that will never stand the test of time.
The formal launching of two Independent Power Plants (IPPs) – first of which is the newly built 10.4 Megawatts plant at Alausa, Ikeja and the Island Power Expansion on Lagos Island – are among significant events that will take place in the course of the special Energy Conservation Month.
A sensitisation awareness for the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) initiative will also be carried out in Ikorodu as part of efforts to further encourage more residents to embrace the use of LPG as a safer, cost effective and health and environment-friendly cooking gas alternative to kerosene stove, firewood and charcoal.
The Alausa IPP, which is set for unveiling in the month of October by the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), will run on environment-friendly natural gas from Gaslink Limited. The Power Plant, when launched, will power the State Secretariat Complex, Alausa, Lagos Television (LTV 8), Lagos State Printing Corporation, Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture, Office of the Surveyor-General, proposed Multi-Agency Complex as well as the Staff Quarters, I, II and III.
Contrary to what it was before we started in the year 2007 when Awolowo Road, Ikoyi was the only road with functional public street light that we could boast of as a people, Lagos State today has the highest number of well-maintained public street lighting network in the entire country. Indeed, by the end of the year 2013, the Lagos State Electricity Board will be maintaining over 316kilometres of public lighting network.
You just talked about LPG. What is the state of the Lagos State Government’s programme on LPG or cooking gas, in terms of the planned distribution of cylinders to the residents at subsidised prices?
Right now, we are putting finishing touches to what we are doing. We don’t want a situation where Agege Local Government Area will have a particular number and may be, Ikorodu, will not have the same thing.
So, that is what we are doing now. You will hear from us very soon. What we are doing right now at Ikorodu next month is the LPG Skid Plant. If you give out the cylinders before the skid plants, by the time they finish, probably, the 3 kilogramme cylinder that they have or the 6kg that they have, where will they refill the cylinders? So, we have to first of all, put all those skid plants in place.
We may not be able to put all of them at the same time but we will put in areas that are very close to homes so that people will go there and refill their gas.
We are still doing that and we are going to do that of Ikorodu in October. Our target is actually the local market women and not the elites because the elites are already using gas in their homes.
The programme is targeted at those people, who are still using firewood and kerosene stove. We want the local market women to be able to buy even N100 worth of gas very close to her home. These are the things we are trying to put in place.
Why energy conservation and why the choice of October for the start of the programme?
With this intervention has come the responsibility for the maintenance of these power infrastructure as our collective assets as a people. As a government, we are mindful of the fact, the provision of public assets is one thing but to endure, their maintenance must be a shared collective responsibility for all.
This informed the decision of the Lagos State Government to dedicate the month of October 2013 as the first ever Energy Conservation Month to be observed by the government and people of Lagos State. Ahead of the ‘Conserve Energy, Save Money’ campaign which we will be amplifying in October, we have carefully laid the foundation for the campaign by retrofitting all light bulbs within the State Secretariat in Alausa into energy saving bulbs.
This move is aimed at saving at least 978,906 Kilowatt Hour (KWH) of energy and achieves reduced emission by at least 1,278,444lbs yearly. Now, to enable the government and people protect the investments being made in this critical sector, the Lagos State Government has considered it necessary to launch a behavioural change campaign aimed at fostering new attitudes on energy conservation. Government is indeed persuaded that to maintain new assets, old habits must give way.
Towards this end, our Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) will entail the deployment of materials that carry step by step, do-it-yourself instructions on energy efficiency and conservation.
The intent is not only to enable our citizens save the earned money they often spend on energy but to enable us see a more energy efficient Lagos. The equation of power inadequacy is simple – the people of Lagos are demanding more power than our national grid can currently supply.
Therefore, by cultivating an energy conservation culture where we use energy wisely, we can make the most of any additional power generated or made available within the state. It is a practice that will help us realise our goal of faster and steady power supply while saving ourselves money and at the same time reducing environmental pollution.
Recent research shows that less than one per cent of the 20,000,000 inhabitants of the state practice any form of Energy Conservation.
With only 1000Megawatts of electricity supplied to Lagos from the grid at peak, current energy levels are insufficient and being overtly wasted at the same time.
This counter-productive behaviour is what has inspired the careful composition of the proposed communication plan to be coordinated by Lagos State Electricity Board. I have to emphasise again that we are talking about conserving energy to save money.
If you want to save money, you have to conserve energy. We also have to teach our youths the need for them to be able to conserve everything, starting from energy – saving energy, money and time.
These are the things I learnt many years back, when I was growing up. But over the years, there has been a wide gap and people are beginning to forget that conservation is the word. So, this month is set aside to bring everybody back to those basics that we really need to conserve energy if we really need to prosper. In many parts of the world, they do many things in the area of renewable.
We have not even done much in Nigeria in renewable. We are also concerned in the area of renewable to use sunlight and to convert wastes to electricity. These are what the Lagos State Electricity Board is implementing and over a period of time, we will see results.
Do you think there is any need to conserve energy when the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) will still give electricity consumers the same amount of bill every month, whether they consume electricity or not?
When you waste energy, you are wasting money. But more importantly, as a nation, we will never have enough energy unless we conserve. That is the simple truth.
If the people of Nigeria do not conserve the little they have they are never going to have enough. They are never going to have 24 hours of power supply. Unless you conserve energy, you will never know if the next person on the street will have power. What we are doing will determine the future of our nation.
One of the reasons why the Lagos State Government decided to build their Independent Power Plant (IPP) for Alausa Secretariat to take the whole of the government offices off grid primarily was to make the government more functional by having 24 hours of power and also to redirect that power that was not being used Alausa Secretariat for members of the public. So, if you are saving power, you are actually giving other people power supply.
That is the only means we are going to get to the point where we want to get to, which is reliable power supply. The issue of fixed electricity bills by PHCN is very simple.
I am not sure if you know, but there is actually Eko Distribution Centre of Complaints and Ikeja Distribution Centre of Complaints.
I urge everybody, even if you don’t want to go directly to PHCN, you can link us up on our website with your complaints about PHCN billings. All I am assuring you is that we will resolve it.
These projects and programmes are no doubt laudable initiatives but we are concerned about the sustainability. When the initiators of these projects leave office, what is the guarantee that they will not be abandoned?
Well, let me tell you straight away that government is a continuum. There is nothing like a gap in government. Yes, we are here today; we are making this programme happen but we have got a ministry in place.
We have got a dedicated and brilliant people in the ministry. I do not have to be there in a year or two year’s time. But we have got brilliant people, who will continue to carry out this programme. So, we have initiated the programme and we have carried everybody along.
We have all the relevant staff of the Lagos State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, and the Lagos State Electricity Board and they are actually the people working.
So, the programme will continue to prosper, no matter who is here and who is not here. I can assure you that this programme will not die because people have really embraced it.
– This Day