…As NERC launches regulations for mini-grids
15 August 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal Government has stated that state governments have autonomy to produce their own power in order to ensure improved power supply in the country.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who disclosed this while speaking at the 18th monthly power sector operators meeting on Monday, at the Kumbotso transmission station, Kano State, said interested states must, however, obtain the necessary permit and licenses from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) depending on the areas it wants to invest in.
The minister noted that nothing in the Electricity Power Sector Reforms Act (EPSRA) precludes States from doing producing their own power, adding that unlike in the past few years, there have been improvements in power generation in the country.
He said this was as a result of government’s efforts in the areas of repairs of pipelines and gas supply.
According to him, the continuous attacks on pipelines in 2015 had led to poor generation but this reduced in 2017.
“From a generation of about 2690MWs in May 2016, we have grown to 6863MWs in generation and transmission has increased from 5000MWs to 6700MWs.”
Fashola added, “Although this does not mean that we have enough gas for all our power plants, we are at least getting closer to where we were in February 2016, when we first crossed the 5000MWs line which was mainly fired then by gas plants before the attacks on the pipelines started.”
He said as of August 3, the total available power which could be put on the grid was 6863MWs, while the transmission capacity had risen to 6700MWs.
He, however, lamented the inability of distribution companies to take-on power, describing this as ‘load rejection’.
“Unfortunately we can’t put all of that power on the grid because the Discos cannot take the power and this is what we call load rejection,” he said.
He blamed this on old assets inherited, bad debts that had continued to hamper Discos’ access to credit, insufficient investment by Discos, among others.
To this end, he stressed the need for joint efforts of all stakeholders in the sector to improve power supply, saying: “We need every part of the value chain, from gas to generation; from transmission to distribution to operate efficiently.”
Meanwhile, the minister has stressed that electricity distribution companies did not have the monopoly of metering.
He noted that although the Discos had obligation to meter all its consumers, the law did not vest a monopoly of meter supply on them.
According to him, meter supply was an open but regulated business, adding that intending meter service providers were to apply for licence from the NERC to undertake it.
He further disclosed that the government would optimise the EPSRA developing power sector regulation to democraticise access to meters.
He said this would be kick-started with a N39 billion loan to meter providers.
On situations where consumers, of their freewill, offer to pay for meters, he stated that this did not contravene the Electricity Power Reforms Act.
He, however, maintained that the government would monitor and regulate to ensure that Discos did not abdicate in their obligations of metering.
In another development, the NERC also launched the mini-grid regulations designed to serve unserved and under-served communities in terms of availability of power.
Presenting the regulations at the event, the NERC’s Vice Chairman, Sanusi Garba, said this would cover customers in communites who were not captured in the five-year development plan of the Discos.
He said, “The NERC took the initiative of developing a regulation to remove some of the impediments that have sold private investments in rural electrification and the regulations provide for cost reflective tarrifs for investors and on the existing tariff methodology.
“The regulation also provides for strategies for investors in mini-grids. It is expected that investors in mini-grid will comply with our technical standards. The communities that are expected to benefit are those who are not captured in the five-year development plan of the Discos.”