Electricity generation drops to dismal 1,580MW

…As NEMSA bans substandard materials, bad construction practice in power sector

Oscarline Onwuemenyi
10 March 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Millions of Nigerians are in for longer spells of darkness as the country’s electricity generation profile has again dropped to 1,580.6 megawatts (MW) following a reported partial system collapse.

Figures from the website of the Nigerian Systems Operations Department of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) showed that on Wednesday, the country was generating a mere 1,580.6MW which was distributed to the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos).

The past few weeks have recorded a lot of instability in the power generation due to system failures and acts of vandalism across the country, leading to wild attempts at rationing by distribution companies.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) has banned the use of substandard materials and equipment by electrical contractors and distribution companies in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), a statement said.

The statement, issued by NEMSA management in Abuja on Wednesday, stated that the agency also banned substandard and bad construction practices in the power industry and other allied industries/workplaces.

It added that the measure was to guarantee the delivery of safe, stable and reliable power supply to the citizenry and guarantee the safety of lives and property.

According to the statement, NEMSA had informed Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) of the ban in a memo of February 4, 2016.

It added that the Managing Director of NEMSA, Mr Peter Ewesor, listed hindrances to safe, stable and reliable power supply to Nigerians as the reasons for the ban.

NEMSA explained that it took the decision because of several reports from its Inspectorate field officers after monitoring and evaluation of network/power systems nationwide.

It said during the exercise, indiscriminate use of substandard materials / equipment and bad construction practices were discovered in NESI by the electrical contractors and DISCOs.

The statement warned the utility companies/ DISCOs and the electrical installation contractors from further use of these types of substandard materials/ equipment and practices in the NESI.

It advised the distribution companies and contractors to ensure strict compliance and adhere to standard construction practices in the execution of network and power systems.

It also identified the use of untreated wooden poles, use of untreated wooden cross-arms and use of un-galvanised channel/angle irons as some of these substandard materials. Others are the use of un-galvanised and improper tie straps and use of un-galvanised bolts and nuts.

According to the agency, frequent failures of substandard equipment and materials usually resulted in sudden collapse of distribution networks/systems which posed risks to lives and property. Others are use of split conductors and cables resulting in sudden snapping of conductors, network collapses, use of undersize conductors and cables limiting current carrying capacity.

It also noted that the use of fake/non-copper (aluminium) cables for indoor wiring and installations caused collapse of distribution networks/systems.

The statement also identified direct connection of up-riser copper conductor to overhead aluminium conductor instead of using bimetal line taps as the cause of bad construction practice.

It pointed out that the use of extended cross-arms to raise or increase the height of electric concrete poles also formed part of bad construction practices.

It also identified the use of conductors with joints over expressways and river crossings, feeder pillars not bolted down on plinths falling as bad practices.
Others are leaving exposed cables, exposed feeder pillars, use of pieces of conductors as fuses which are considered unsafe and unacceptable.

Also on the list are missing J&P fuse links, using only pieces of cables as fuses, supporting 33KV / 11KV overhead lines on the same poles and using unequal poles in three or four pole structure.

The statement noted that the use of single pole and angle steel cross-arms for tee-offs of new feeder/extension lines were unsafe and risks to the public, adding that unfenced distribution substations with exposed transformers bushings were as well unsafe and risks to the public.

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