National grid records another collapse, drops to 97MW

Oscarline Onwuemenyi
13 April 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Barely two weeks Barely two weeks after the country experienced a total power failure that lasted for several hours, there was yet another collapse last Saturday with the grid dropping to 97 megawatts (MW).

*Electricity distribution sub-station.

*Electricity distribution sub-station.

A daily report on power sector operation obtained from the Nigeria System Operator (NSO) yesterday said the grid which earlier peaked at 3,515mw was reduced to 97.7mw.

It further showed that it only began recovery at 06:00 hours on Sunday after it ramped up generation to 2,515mw. Over 1,000mw was already lost to constraints experienced the previous day.

Electricity consumers in the country are facing some of the worst days in terms of electricity generation and distribution, made almost unbearable by what many consider to be crazy and unreasonably high bills, often for power that is not consumed.

Two weeks ago, precisely on March 31, the country experienced what was a historical grid collapse and drop to zero megawatts generation, which resulted in nationwide outages for several hours.

After last month’s incident, the Nigerian System Operator (NSO), an arm of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) warned that the grid system was susceptible to collapse once generation level was less than 3,500mw and when the spinning reserve was low.

Officials of some electricity Distribution companies (Discos) said yesterday that the situation was critically affecting their operations as they continued to load-shed the little power allocated to them.

“This will affect the payment of bills at month end because our customers will say there was little or no supply,” a Disco official said.

The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) yesterday appealed to its customers for understanding, saying the drop in electricity supply was due to the reduction in the energy allocated to it by the NSO, its spokesman, Ahmed Shekarau, said.

Spokesman for the Kano Disco, Mohammed Kandi, said the collapse of Saturday critically affected the Disco’s allocation. “All through Saturday, we received 30mw and throughout the week earlier, our allocation did not go beyond 90mw.”

He noted that the situation began to improve on Sunday, adding that, “As at today (Monday) we received 234mw allocation at 06:00 hours.”

A source from the Kainji/Jebba hydropower Generation company (Genco) said vandalism caused the shutdown of some gas-fired Gencos, hence the hydros ran at maximal level which was not healthy for the system.

President of the Consumers Advocacy Network and a member of the System Collapse Investigative Panel of 2013, Barrister Kunle Olubiyo, said over 200mw of spinning reserve should be left in the sector to curb system collapse.

However, checks indicate that the reserve since last week has been less than 60mw.
The Saturday incident was the third reported system collapse in the industry this year with two in March and one this month.

Officials of some Generation companies (Gencos) said the first collapse was caused by the acute shortage of gas to fire the thermal power plants due to vandalism of gas pipelines and compounded by the oil and gas workers’ protests over the restructuring of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Kano Disco then had only 50mw allocation instead of an average of 350mw while Abuja Disco received just 132mw instead of its 450mw daily allocation.

Meanwhile, reports have shown that 161 system collapses have been recorded in the transmission system between 2009 and 2016.

Reports from the National Control Centre (NCC) in Osogbo, Osun, a section of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) obtained in January, 2013 showed that 39 collapses happened in 2009, with another 42 in 2010.

It reduced to 19 cases in 2011 but rose to 24 collapses in 2012. The grid witnessed 22 cases in 2013 which reduced by more than half, to nine in 2014 and six in 2015. This year, 2016, three cases were recorded between March and April.

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