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Remembering the quote of Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, during the 2015 presidential campaign that every serious government must fix electricity within the first six months of its administration, the government he is serving on the same capacity has failed to do so in four years.
However, in search of what went wrong, the Chief Executive Officer of Century Power Generation (CPG), Dr Chukwueloka Umeh, has given insights on the structural defects and unresolved issues hobbling the expected regime of steady electricity in Nigeria.
In an interview, he revealed that “The reason we are not distributing as much as the installed capacity is because the value chain is broken. We have over 12 gigawatts of installed capacity”.
According to him, the foundation challenge is that “existing gas pipelines are so old that the installed capacity cannot be carried effectively to power plants for production”.
Besides, several plants that were built by the government do you have gas coming to them.
According to him, there are plants that were built by the government that has gas but don’t have enough transmission infrastructure to evacuate the power.
On the distribution networks that were sold to private investors, Umeh revealed that “the investors put in their money to buy these networks from the government, but at the time that they were sold, the government gave numbers that they thought were the Aggregated Technical Commercial and Collection Losses (ATCCL).
“So, imagine this; someone buys a distribution network and they tell you that the ATCC losses are 80 percent. What that means is that from all the power coming into your plant, you can collect money for 80 percent of the power that you get but in reality, it is different.
While querying how Discos can pay for loans when there are metering issues are still unsolved, Century Power boss noted that “A lot of the networks are not properly metered; a lot of the networks have lines and transformers that are so old. You also have a lot of networks where people are stealing power from them”.
“If you are collecting money for only 30 percent of the power you are given, how can you pay for the part that you are supplying? At the end of each month, the regulators expect you to remit a certain amount of money that you cannot give because you’re not collecting.
“Hence, you cannot pay the generating company that supplied power to the grid for you to take the power. Now because you cannot pay them, the generating companies also cannot pay the transmission companies.
“It is a vicious cycle of failure. Everything is broken. This is a real problem. What needs to happen in this case and you find that starting to happen in some of the networks, is that Disco owners are trying to play catch up in metering.
“The government needs to support them to enforce metering. If I sell power to you through your meter, you need to pay for that power.
“Two years ago, the chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) said that only about 30 percent of the households are metered,” Umeh averred.
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