Published On: Mon, Jun 29th, 2015

‘We are the enforcers of technical standards, regulations, inspecting, testing of facilities’

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NEMSA MD, Engr. Peter Ewesor

NEMSA MD, Engr. Peter Ewesor

The Electricity Management Services Limited (EMSL) which was transformed recently to Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) has gotten an Act. In this interview with Energy Correspondents, NEMSA MD, Engr. Peter Ewesor explains the focus of the Act. Excerpts

Now that you have an Act, what is the operational focus of the agency on technical enforcement?

You may recall that I have briefed the press before on several fora that Electricity Management Services limited (EMSL) was not just put in place as a new agency. It metamorphosed from the electrical inspectorate service (EIS) of the federal ministry of power who were saddled with the functions and responsibility of ensuring that technical standards, specifications, inspections and certifications are carried out in the industry to ensure and guarantee efficient production of power, and safe delivery of that power to the citizenry. It is at the same time to ensure that the safety of lives and property is guaranteed. EMSL was formed originally with the intention of having the quality control of meters because you find out that during the NEPA days, there are national meter test stations in three locations of Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kaduna used for internal control of metering equipment coming into the country so that we don’t have bad meters in the systems. This too is part of the enforcement functions of the EMSL so that country is not turn into a dumping ground for all manner of meters. Beyond these functions, there are ancillary services which contribute to the efficiency of power generation, transmission and distribution like the transformer repair workshop. It is not just to carry out repair alone, it is also for analyses of power equipment brought into the country to see if it meets the requirement. With these, every function and activity being carried out as enacted by the Act is enforcement, technical inspection and certification of all electrical equipment and installation across the value chain. One thing I will like to clear is that, we are not just restricted to generation, transmission and distribution. We go beyond that to utilisation which goes off the value chain. We go to homes, factories, industries where these installations are going to utilise the power that comes from the grid to ensure that when the power is being connected to the premises, there is proper connection synchronism between the power that is coming and the equipment that will receive. All these are to guarantee the safety of lives and property, safety in the use of electricity. We equally have the authority to inspect and certify sole source supply. This country has a law which says that you cannot bring in equipment in Nigeria to generate electricity, that are not in consonance with our frequency and voltage levels and if there is no agency like us that is going to enforce that, then it means anybody can violate the laws of the land.

Are there sanctions that you could apply to errant operators?

For meter testing, we have up to three levels of meter testing; if you are bringing your meter for the first time in this country, we want to check that it is going to work effectively and efficiently in the country because meters are electronic equipment which are likely to be affected by the weather and environment. When that is done and they do not met the requirements, they will be rejected but reasons are given to the manufacturers or suppliers why the meters are rejected. For these reasons, we have designated three locations where these meters can be tested and should there be an upsurge in the volume of meters testing, we can add more to make sure the service is closer. The penalties for violation is N500,000 but you know violation is not just in one sphere because we are going to work in line with existing codes and regulations. There are codes and regulations that we are also enforcing and they have specified penalties for specific violations, some will be cautionary.

 What will be your level engagement with other stakeholders in the sector to forestall possible conflicts of interests?

I think that one thing with this country is that once there is no synergy between agencies of government, then progress is very much limited. I think that is one of the things that we will try to do at all cost to engage all other agencies that are involved in the electricity industry.

When we started the Electricity Management Services Limited (EMSL), the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) was the first agency that we engaged simply because we know that they are the agency of government saddled with the responsibility of sector wide standards regulation and enforcement while EMSL was put in place to enforce standards specific to the power industry. We started collaboration with SON and never had any conflict, we engaged them when we wanted to revalidate our national pole manufacturing directory because we knew there were requirements from them and we wanted to have these requirements in place and publish an encompassing directory that is in compliance with sector wide requirement and industry specifics. SON is pleased with us coming on board and made it clear that we have no conflict but rather will collaborate to make sure that we enforce standards. Today, we serve in the committees of SON. The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) is an agency of government that needs EMSL because we have the expertise to help determine infringements on the rights of consumers and we have gone to them to form that collaboration and it has begun with an MoU that is expected to be signed in a couple of days detailing our limits to avoid conflicts because everybody has got its own Acts and limits. We will always maintain these boundaries and support these services to ensure that they do well and give consumers the satisfaction that is required.

Could you clearly demarcate your job from that of NERC which many know as the power sector  regulator?

I think we have said this overtime, in all honesty, I don’t really see any area of conflict with NERC just like the Act put it clearly that we are the enforcers of technical standards and regulations, inspecting and testing facilities to ensure that facilities put in place have been properly planned to guarantee safety in the use of electricity that comes whenever it is available. Just as it is practiced all over the world, we have different agencies of government in the power sector that do specific jobs and in this case, there is no conflict and there is a straight demarcation in our roles. Our functions didn’t just start in 2014 when EMSL was created but it is an activity that had been performed for well over 50 years by a department that has been moved into this place and all over the world there is the regulator and standards agencies as well as technical regulators depending on the model that any country decides to adopt.

With the structure of the industry, there is no way you can leave the technical enforcement in the ministry when you already have a privatised industry; government knows that this agency is needed and cannot function efficiently without a law backing it.

Obviously, NERC and NEMSA seem relevant in the sector but have you found a meeting point to sort your prior differences?

If you ask me, I think it is an issue we allow to heal itself in the sense that we are already in the sector and even without the Act, we have being carrying out our functions and activities and those who see the benefits in what we do know that we are important. It is always not easy when you want to ask for a space in an already occupied space and so, NERC has their position on us and they have always made our case just as we have always made ours known. The entire system has also made its case and I would want that we don’t open up the wounds, it is better we operate within the confines of our establishing laws and at the appropriate time, the system will heal itself. We are in NERC’s standing committees and we don’t see them bringing in new codes without our input. We participated very well in the codes that were produced at the early stages but the point is that we are now sister agencies of government under the same umbrella, the same ministry and president and we definitely must work together, that is the bottom-line. There is a marriage between us and the sector is for all of us to improve. We must work together for the common benefits of the sector.

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