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Published On: Thu, Jun 28th, 2018

Buhari Administration’s Giant Strides: The Electricity Sector in Focus

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Hon Minister of Power, Works & Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola,SAN(middle), Managing Director/ CEO, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Mr Usman Gur Mohammed(right) and representative of the Governor of Kaduna State & Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Rural and Community Development,Mallam Mahmud Zailani(left) during the commissioning of the 2 x 60MVA, 132 /33kv Transformers at the Power Station Kakuri, Kaduna State on Monday 11th June 2018.

One of the first in a series of giant strides in the electricity power sector taken by the Buhari administration was the commissioning of a 330KV Switching Station built by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) under the National Independent Power Project (NIPP) in Essien Udim, Ikot-Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State.
So much has been said about power generated but stranded and not reaching electricity consumers. The NIPP superintended by the NDPHC has over 3,000mw of generation capacity available for deployment to the national grid. However much less is distributed. This station commissioned at Ikot Ekpene was to reduce the amount of electricity stranded and unable to get to the national grid from power plants in the east.
This commissioned station now helps evacuate power from four power plants: Ibom Power, Calabar Power, Alaoji Power, and Afam Power through to Ugwuaji in Enugu and then Makurdi up to Jos. Calabar Power Plant has been running two units simultaneously for two years, with 1200MW evacuation line in place through Ikot Ekpene. This feat was the first power flow along the Eastern flank axis, which marked the beginning of the end of stranded power constraints in the southern and eastern axis of the grid.
When power plants were built but without providing them necessary gas, the issue of stranded power would arise. Most of the plants were ready to work, but fuel was lacking. Moreso, those with gas like the Ibom Power plant, Alaoji, Afam and Calabar, all having between them a combined capacity of 1,800MW but were delivering roughly about 600 to 700MW. Power was still stranded.
The new Ikot Ekpene switching station was therefore so important because it is now evacuating power from Ibom Power, Calabar Power , Alaoji Power and from Afam. The station has also help boost power all the way to Uguaji and also support Makurdi which had been experiencing low voltage problem. This strategic power project intervention early in the life of the administration helped release stranded power out to stabilise the national grid.
The Enugu-Ikot Ekpene 330KV NIPP Transmission line power project had been stalled since 2010 because of various compensation claims by communities. Key sensitive materials of transmission towers and aluminum conductors had been stolen; there was outright hacking of fully mounted power grid towers and brazen encroachment on the electricity transmission line right-of-way (ROW). All these combined to stall the take-off of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company’s (NDPHC’s) Enugu – Ikot Transmission line.
The project is a multi-billion naira Eastern power transmission loop covering about 180 km from Enugu through Okigwe, Umuahia and Ikot Ekpene, meant to evacuate huge electricity generated from the Alaoji (Aba, Abia State), Afam (Port Harcourt, Rivers State) and Calabar (Cross River State) integrated power (NIPP) stations, before joining similar four circuit lines that come from Makurdi (Benue State).
The entire stretch of 180 km major electricity loop runs from New Haven in Enugu Town, Enugu State, down to Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom State. Work on it had stalled. There was also the lingering issue of compensation for the 330KVA Ikot-Ekpene-Ikot Abasi 330 KVA Transmission Line in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State. Work had also been stalled. The residents of Ukpum Ete clan, comprising 12 villages had been protesting. The administration officials swung into diplomacy mode and these issues were resolved amicably to the national interest.
A new Alaoji to Ikot Ekpene transmission line constructed under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) has raised the national grid by over 1,300 megawatts (mw) of electricity when it was commissioned in October 2016. The 330KV Direct Circuit (DC) transmission line links the 540mw Alaoji NIPP generation plant in Abia State, with the 563mw Calabar NIPP, other generating plants, as well as the mega Switching Station in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State,
This project has been enmeshed in hurdles of right of ways and other litigations for years. The issues were finally resolved and the line which passes through Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Abia and Enugu states widely called the North-South Loop was commissioned. Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State had before urged the completion of the line which he said would boost power supply to the state and spark off more industrial activities. The Enugu State Industrial Park Project, a free trade zone in 9th Mile, could only be realized with this power project. Also the university town of Nsukka, the water scheme projects all require power from this project. Then newly appointed NDPHC’s Managing Director, Mr. Chiedu Ugbo had sought for out-of-court settlement with the communities with support from the governors of Enugu and Akwa Ibom state to get the project completed.
Such has been the hands-on intervention works in the power sector by the Buhari administration. There have been so much power projects completed and many others started under this administration. Various contractors have been mobilized to sites, right of way issues, payment of compensation so that communities can allow construction of transmission lines have been done.
Except for market liquidity challenges, the sale of Omotoso, Geregu and Calabar power plants would have already reached advanced stage and the sale would have been closed by now. The administration officials, the Vice President, the Hon. Minister of Power are working on the mandate of the president to resolve all the issues that can impinge the private sector coming in.
The Buhari administration has also been executing strategic power projects across the country. One for instance is at Okija, Ihiala, Nnewi. The line from Ihiala to Nnewi has been done by the contractor – North China. There is also the building of the power tower and the stretching to the sub-station at Nnewi which is being built directly by TCN. The administration has also been so proactive. An ExxonMobil power plant and a number of other plants are also being conceived.
According to Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun, ‘’The Nigerian government is committed to the diversification of the nation’s revenue base. Nigeria’s sole dependence on oil poses enormous challenge on the economy. Oil is only 13 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product {GDP} but it represents 70 per cent of government’s revenue, which means if anything happens to oil, it affects everybody.’’
The Buhari administration therefore started a deliberate policy to lessen the dependence on oil and foster the growth of the industrial/trade sector. Industrilsation is powered by energy. Development is usually associated with the capacity of power that each nation has. The more power a nation has, the more the nation develops. In ordinary language, the relative improvement in standard of living in economic and social life in nations especially in the West, is as a result of its huge energy capacity.
Seeing this, president Buhari appointed as Power minister, a former state governor with a track record in delivering on public services. Honourable minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola looked at the whole power sector in the country and stated, “We must not dwell on the past so we can retain the capacity to focus on today and tomorrow”. Instead of introducing a new and grandiose power sector roadmap that is headline-grabbing, he chose to be practical and realistic. He has become focused on continuing with the reforms already started in the power sector. Mr. Fashola said he will work to achieve incremental power, then to achieving steady power and perhaps uninterrupted power.
President Buhari also appointed a new management executive team for the NDPHC to carry out the administration’s mandate. The new Managing Director, Chiedu Ugbo, is a self-effacing achiever with decades long experience in the power sector. The NDPHC under his watch has in the last three years added huge MVA capacity to the national grid. Its overall contribution to the transmission and distribution infrastructural system is increasing daily just as it still majors on power generation.
Under the Buhari administration mandate, the NDPHC has succeeded in building thousands of kilometers of transmission lines across the country; building thousands of kilometers of distribution lines and support substation; building gas pipelines that will supply gas to these power stations to realize generation targets. It has further branched into solar energy with a pilot scheme in Abuja.
It officially commenced a partnership with Azuri. This partnership flagged off at Wuna village in the FCT, Abuja and is a part of the Presidential Initiative on Rural Solar Home Lighting Systems. The NDPHC is also actively involved in the presidential initiative where at its beginning, 20,000 units of solar home systems are now being deployed in under-served rural areas with no access to the national grid.
The Buhari administration has adopted a relatively modest approach to its very major achievements.
One consistent outcry from a section of Nigerians on the inability of the nation to meet its energy target is for the privitisation process of the nation’s power distribution assets, be cancelled. To this, the federal minister of Power, Works and Housing, Tunde Fashola, has maintained that cancellation will no doubt grab the headlines but it will send a wrong message to investors. To him, revoking, cancelling or reversing privitisation won’t overcome the problem of fixing Nigeria’s energy expectation. These problems he maintained can best be managed through firm and principled regulatory authority coupled with credible and decisive management. This has been the administration’s approach.
The Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry Statistics[NESI] analysis reveal that Nigeria’s inability to utilize 6,000 MW represents a daily loss of N2.568 billion to the economy. This is clearly unacceptable to the present administration and its choice appointment of the Power minister; its intervention, re-constitution and support for the new NDPHC management showed its resolve to get it right this time around.
Confronting challenges in the power sector by this administration has taken a huge political will. Gas contracts with bank guarantees, unprecedented, have been signed. There was remarkably early in the administration of the signing of an agreement for a Partial Risk Guarantee {PRG} between the NDPHC and the World Bank to secure the supply of about 130 million cubic feet per day of gas to NIPP Calabar plant by a private gas supplier, Seven Energy. This agreement was the first of its kind for gas in Nigeria.
It is trite that there is heavy dependence on the NIPP plants in bringing electricity supply to Nigerians. In grid instability, NIPP plants provide about 265MW of Spinning Reserves to facilitate grid responsiveness during disturbances on the transmission network. Spinning reserve is practiced all over the world. The NDPHC assets are the backbone of Nigeria’s power infrastructure.
Cross Section of Power sector Quick Fixes between 2016 and Now.
Based on its commitment for prompt action in the energy sector, the Buhari administration provided the muscle for speedily success of the following.
On the shortage of gas to the NIPP power stations in the Western Delta – Ogorode, Benin (Ihovbor), Omotosho and Olorunsogo, the administration’s intervention and resolution of the Niger Delta crises led to improvement in gas supply to the power stations in this western flank.
On the inadequate transmission capacity to evacuate power from the Eastern Delta plants, there was the quick completion of the 12 circuit 330KV Ikot-Ekpene switching station and the dual circuit 330kV transmission lines from both the Alaoji and Calabar power stations. There was also the completion of the first circuit (line 2) of the Ikot-Ekpene to Ugwuaji four circuit 330KV.
On the inadequate gas pipeline infrastructure in the Eastern Delta (Alaoji and Calabar), there was the completion of the NOPL by Total for gas supply to Alaoji Power Station and the completion of the Seven Energy dedicated pipeline from Uquo field to Calabar Power Station.
Magboro and its environs in Ogun state after 17 years of non-supply was in 2017 delivered electric power by the effort of the Chiedu Ugbo led Niger Delta Power Holding Company {NDPHC}. Also there was electricity power connection at Egbema and Okija Communities in Imo and Anambra State respectively. NDPHC completed a distribution line for Ibadan DisCo to consolidate the supply of electricity to communities in its franchise area.
It provided a 33kv line and every community along that line will tap into it.
Recently Completed Transmission Substations (SS) & Lines.
Recently completed projects include the 330kV Ikot Ekpene Switching Station; 330kV DC Alaoji – Ikot Ekpene Transmission Line; 330kV DC Calabar – Ikot Ekpene Transmission Line; 2x150MVA, 330/132kV & 2x60MVA, 132/33kV Gwagwalada SS; 330kV DC Gwagwalada – East Main Transmission Line; 132kV DC East Main – Kukwaba – Apo Transmission Line; 1x60MVA, 132/33kV Lokoja SS; 330kV DC Ajaokuta – Lokoja – Gwagwalada Transmissin Line; 1 x 300MVA, 330/132kV Alagbon SS; 1x300MVA, 330/132kV Lekki SS; 1 x 330kV DC Ikot Ekpene – Ugwaji Transmission Line (2)
Distribution projects totaling 296 have been completed plus 33/11kV distribution injection substations; 1,712 Km of 33kV Lines ; 4,540 Km of 11kV Lines; 24,996 completely self-protected transformers. A total of 3,970MVA injection substation capacity was added; 1,212MVA CSP transformation capacity was also added
Intervention projects – Distribution.
The need to strengthen the nation’s distribution assets saw the NDPHC under the Buhari administration intervening to deliver a number of 78 iintervention projects. There were added over 544Km of 33kV Lines; over 130Km of 11kV Lines; 199 distribution transformers (100KVA, 200KVA, 300KVA, 500 KVA); 148MVA injection substation capacity was added; 108MVA distribution transformers capacity was added.
Recently Completed Distribution Substations (SS) & Lines
Other projects were completed in the distribution sector. They include the 1x15MVA, 33/11kV Inj SS, Tambuwal, Sokoto State; 1x15MVA, 33/11kV, 1X7.5MVA Inj SS, Fegge, Anambra State; 1X7.5MVA, 33/11kV Inj SS, Potiskum, Yobe State; 1X15MVA, 33/11kV Inj SS, Gagi, Sokoto State; 1×7.5MVA, 33/11kV Inj SS. Otta, Ogun State; 1X15MVA, 33/11kV Inj SS, Angwan Dosa, Kaduna State; 2×7.5 MVA, 33/11kV Inj SS, Lamingo, Plateau State; 2X15MVA, 33/11KV Inj SS, Zaria Rd, Jos; Construction of 33kV line from Oke Aro TS to Mowe SS; 2x15MVA, 33/11kv Injection SS, Asaba, Delta State; 1×7.5 MVA, 33/11kV Injection SS, Saminaka, Kaduna State; 1X7.5kVMVA, 33/11kV Injection SS, Iloko, Osun State; 1X15MVA, 33/11kV Injection SS, Aminkanle, Lagos State; 1x15MVA, 33/11kv Injection SS, Abule Taylor, Lagos State; 1x15MVA, 33/11kv Injection SS, Elemoro, Lagos State; 1×7.5MVA, 33/11kv Injection SS, Bauchi, Bauchi State; 1x15MVA, 33/11kv Injection SS, Farfaru, Sokoto State; 1×7.5MVA, 33/11kv Injection SS, Water Works Gusua, Zamfara; 1×7.5MVA, 33/11kv Injection SS, Otowhodo, Delta State; 1×7.5MVA, 33/11kv Injection SS, Ibusa, Delta State.
Ongoing Projects.
The Managing Director NDPHC has assured Nigerians that the new Ikot Abasi 330/132kv,3x150MVA substation would be completed in twelve months’ time. The Transmission sub- station, the largest in NDPHC projects, is being designed as a power evacuation facility for power generated by the Ibom Power station, Alscon Power station as well as the Qua Iboe power plant of ExxonMobil in Eket. The NDPHC had in 2016 constructed a 330/132kv switching station in Ikot Epkene, in Akwa Ibom state. NDPHC also constructed about six injection distribution substations of various capacity in Akwa Ibom state along with completely Self-Protected transformers (CSP).
Major work is ongoing at the 338 Megawatts capacity Egbema Power Plant in Imo State which is being built under the NIPP scheme. The completion date is by the end of 2018. The Okija distribution line will be completed in November. There is significant progress on Nnewi-Ihiala line, Ikot- Ekpene-Afam line, and Daura-Kazaure.
In February 2018, the NDPHC flagged off the construction of a 330 kilovolt (KV) transmission substation worth N5.49 billion in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital. When completed at the end of 2018, it will add about 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity capacity to Nasarawa state. The substation comprising 2 x 150MVA transformers and 2 x 60MVA transformers will get its power source from the Ikot Ekpene transmission switching station in Akwa Ibom state, passing through Ugwuaji in Enugu to Makurdi, and to Lafia before reaching Jos substation. The new substation will improve supply around Lafia that now depends on a 93 kilometre distribution line from Akwanga with low voltage. It will also serve as the third source for Abuja which depends on the transmission lines from Shiroro and Geregu Generation Companies (GenCos).
Also in February 2018, further driving the goal of sustainable power generation and transmission, 2 X 150, 330/132 KV and 2 X 60 MVA, 132/33KV Injection Sub-Station power transformer projects were also commenced in Akruba, Lafia, Nassarawa state. The substation will supply 15 units of 500kv distribution transformers. A 500kv transformer has the capacity of supplying power to about 1,000 households.
This substation is of strategic importance to Nasarawa State as it boosts power supply to various parts of Nasarawa South Central District including Obi town and environs, the Federal University Lafia, the State House of Assembly Quarters and some other parts of Lafia City. The project is being handled by a world class German company AK – AY Elektrik.
An Administration’s Political will
Nobody can really fix Nigeria without fixing power, confronting headlong its varied man-made and systemic problems which has benefited various unpatriotic individuals in their perverse interests at the country’s expense. The Buhari administration has for three years been doing the right things, flexing its political muscles. The government’s launch of the N701 billion Naira Payment Assurance bond Programme was a creative intervention. The government has been intervening in the system to stabilise things, like the CBN’s 250bn fund. And there is the additional Power Sector Recovery Programme (PAP) initiated by the government, launched in March 2017, which has received the endorsement of the World Bank. There was also the declaration of the eligible customer regime wherein identified eligible customers not too far from a power plant can get direct supply with little or no investment in networks.
Business wise, tariff is always structured to see the high-end customers who are fewer, pay about 60 per cent of the total. The Discos wanted to give undue preference to these high-end users and leave very little for the low-end customers. Government, despite the cry of the Discos, intervened to check this nonsense.
There has been a deliberate budgetary support to enabling the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to pay warehouse and shipping companies to recover over 500 containers of goods and equipment left at the port for many years before the Buhari administration. These containers and the equipment are now regularly being transported to TCN sites and substations to restart and complete transmission projects that had stalled for years. Before now, TCN had only a rigid capacity to transport 5,000 MW of energy and no more. TCN’s capacity to transport energy has steadily but surely grown to over 7,000MW. With the planned completion of the 20-year Transmission Expansion Plan, the era of trial and error in the transmission expansion program will be over.
Another challenge that the Buhari administration inherited was a huge metering gap for electricity consumers. The privatization programme did not patriotically address this. It has become a national embarrassment. The distribution companies’ workers are now like the irritant biblical tax collectors. The whole thing is bedeviled by corruption, greed, inefficiency and outright wickedness and profiteering. There are unreasonable “estimated bills” monthly even on abandoned houses. The Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives recently gave his own private experience on his house not in use in Bauchi. The Discos have always been defensive in their inability to provide meters. They appear clearly not interested to tackle this economic malaise for reasons best known to them. They certainly relish and seem to thrive on mounting pressure on their workers to “meet target”. These workers therefore risk their lives climbing poles monthly to disconnect electricity. This administration intervention was to get directly involved in providing meters bypassing the Discos.
Nigeria has the 26th largest economy in the world with a population above 150million, the 7th largest in the world. It has 500km of gas pipelines still ongoing. Among its major power generation assets are the 3050 Mambilla Power Plant. This Mambilla hydropower project is central to attaining steady power in Nigeria. There is the 700mw Zungeru Hydro Power Plant; the 10 NIPP Power Plants; new intended coal plants. The federal government is also working on the refurbishment of obsolete power plants and the recovery of their lost capacity. There is a policy for renewable energy generation plants. Solar IPPs, Coal IPPs and Hydros are now been considered for full government support similar to the government support provided for the Azura IPP project. This will enable project developers develop projects.
In power distribution, the administration is working on an efficient metering system; capacity upgrade and operation Light up Rural Nigeria. Only 17 per cent of rural areas in Nigeria have access to electricity. The Discos despite their personal interests must be pushed to accelerate grid extensions to more areas.
Power is a catalyst for economic activities and prosperity. It is not a matter for politics or for selfish individuals and unpatriotic corporate profiteering. The power sector reform was brought in to enhance a vibrant sector and deliver to Nigerians.
The Buhari administration has not folded its hands since its inception, idling away in the office. It has taken a hands-on approach, playing the leadership role with policy consistency and special projects intervention to deliver stable electricity to Nigerians.

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