27 May 2014, Abuja – The Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Symbion Power, Mr. William Olukoya, has identified transmission infrastructure as the weakest link in Nigeria’s power sector.
Speaking to THISDAY in an interview, Olukoya said it was critical to minimise the power losses in transmission in view of the revelation by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) that about 15 per cent of the power generated in the grid is lost before it gets to the distribution facilities.
“When you talk about generating 10,000mw or 15,000mw, 10 per cent or 15 per cent of these figures is very huge. So, it becomes very critical that we minimise those losses. To minimise the losses, you have to invest heavily in transmission.
“The only way you can have a competitive edge as a country from cost standpoint is to make sure that the cost of improving that infrastructure is minimised so that you will not be spending or wasting too much money on losses,” he said.
He stated that Symbion partnered Transcorp in the power privatisation process and collectively won the Ughelli Power Plant in Delta State.
According to him, the power plant is a 972 megawatt-capacity plant, which the new investors have already rehabilitated to generate close to 400 megawatts from the 160 megawatts it was generating when it taken over. He disclosed that the target of the partners was to develop it to over 700 megawatts by end if this year.
Olukoya noted that Symbion, which is an American company, is an equity participant in Ughelli and also the main technical partner in the plant. He however, stressed that even though Symbion is an American company, the Ughelli power plant is staffed primarily by Nigerians thereby creating a lot of jobs locally.
“We then join forces with Iroko Capital and we started having discussions about how to further strengthen the electricity process here in Nigeria. What we then decided to do is since we are already in generation, it makes sense that given that the transmission infrastructure is seen as the weakest link where the biggest bottleneck will be in the bid to provide electricity to Nigerians, we decided to get involved in the transmission infrastructure network,” he said.
Based on their collective experience, Olukoya said the partners were aware that for them to work in the transmission industry, they have to be very competitive, adding that the only way they can be competitive is to get involved in steel manufacture.
“So, Iroko and us formed Western Sahara and then teamed up with Jyoti Americas of Houston to develop Nigeria’s first end-to-end transmission solutions company, which is Western Sahara Transmission Company.
Western Sahara will provide everything end-to-end, starting all the way, from tower design, transmission, tower testing – all the way through to manufacture and construction. What we are trying to then do is because of the technical experience that Symbion and Jyoti have in transmission, we will also bring that into Western Sahara to make sure that our technical expertise is successful,” he explained.
He disclosed that the partners would set up a local factory-tower manufacturing factory in Nigeria that will be state-of-the-art and very similar to the one that is currently in place in Houston, Texas, which is one of the power companies owned by Jyoti.
“Jyoti currently has five power plants – three in India, one in Dubai, and one in Houston. The one in Houston is state-of-the-art, brand new and very technologically-advanced. That is the one we are trying to replicate here in Nigeria,” he added.
– This Day