Energy policy coming, says Fashola


Power Minister Babatunde Fashola has pledged to unveil his energy policy when next he addresses the media. The policy will holistically show the direction of the government in solving the problems of the power sector in the short and long terms. He has also mandated the distribution companies to significantly improve service delivery. EMEKA UGWUANYI reports.  The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has promised to make his energy policy public when next he briefs the media, and directed electricity distribution companies (DisCos) to significantly improve electricity supply and customer service delivery.

Fashola said this during his second monthly meeting with operators in the electricity industry in Lagos. He said: “I will come to energy policy, much more later when I do my second press briefing. All of you in the media owe a bigger responsibility now to enlighten people. Everybody must know how power is produced, because the problem is still with us, gas, transmission, and the way the privatisation exercise was conducted. But I will not lament what has happened in the past, I will move with it.”

He continued: “When we took over and assessed the situation, nobody was happy with it. This is a problem that has been here for 16 years if you it put mildly, and 100 years ago, if you put it really extremely. I have been here for less than hundred days, and I think we can solve this problem if you give us the tools that we need to do it. I think this problem can be solved and the day I feel it cannot be solved, I will tell you I don’t think it will work.”

The minister said he reached an agreement with the DisCos to improve customer service delivery by strengthening the operations of their customer centres and providing dedicated phone numbers to ensure consumer complaints within their jurisdictions are promptly responded to.

The meeting, which holds every month, is meant to identify, discuss and find practical solutions to issues facing the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry. The Minister has set a goal of attaining at least 7,000megawatts (Mw) of electricity generation by end of this year. Although he has refused to make how to go about it public, but he has discussed with the operators.

According to Fashola, the most important thing is for Nigerians to access power when they need it and not just mentioning megawatts. He said: “The simplest thing to do is to commit to megawatts, but even if I have 1,000Mw only on the grid, can people access it? As for megawatts, we now have over 5,000Mw, and we are calibrating there. I don’t want to discuss megawatts, but Nigerians will see incremental power output if everybody allows stability to stay. Once you shock this system, gas will hold on, generation companies (GenCos) will hold, contracts are stalled and debts will mount again. Because the person that takes gas will not return it, he must push it out, so people must understand how fragile this system even at the best of time can be.”

Also at the stakeholders’ meeting, AES Power Plant, Egbin Power Plant and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), agreed to meet today to complete the ongoing negotiations with a view to supplying gas to AES power plant.

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) addressed some interface issues, discussed ongoing plans to review and resolve them. The firm  identified 51 of them to be resolved, which affect supply in areas such as Alaoji, Sokoto, Ahoada, Damaturu, Gbarain, Calabar, Afikpo, Nsukka, Okigwe, Ihiala, Ayede, Ikeja, Ajah, Lekki, Kebbi, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Makurdi, Kainji, Kafanchan, Otukpo, Hadejia, Wudil, Kumbotso, Bauchi, Gombe, Katsina, Daura, Abuja and Maiduguri.

The NNPC also presented its plans of adding significant gas supplies for power generation. The operators said the power sector expects an addition of 220 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d) by the end of first quarter of 2016, and 785 mmscf/d by the end of second quarter of 2016 cumulative.

To solve the power sector liquidity issues, the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET) said there is need to develop a Power Sector Liquidity Bond to cover validated present and future liquidity gap until 2018 and the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) committed to immediate resumption of disbursement of the balance of the N213 billion facility previously approved but suspended

The Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) also emphasised the need to improve safety standards by DisCos and their contractors in order to reduce accidents and death. NEMSA underscored the health and safety issues of the sector and the need for improvement in responsiveness to health and safety issues. The operators agreed that NEMSA shall start to rank DisCos for safety compliance and accident reduction, as well as applying sanctions for non-compliance. It cited the case of the electrocuted University of Lagos student.

On metering, the minister gave targets to the DisCos. Eko DisCo was mandated to install 90,000 by end of June and 150, 000 by December, while Ikeja DisCo is 120,000 and 220,000 within the same timeframe.

Others are Kano DisCo 40,000 and 100,000; Yola DisCo 30,000    and  75,000; Jos DisCo 45,000 and 120,000; Benin DisCo                         18,000           and 36,000 having 200,000 cleared with Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), and Port Harcourt DisCo 75,000 and 150,000, all within the same timeframe.

NEMSA said it is also ready to test and certify over 70,000 additional meters that the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) is planning to install for customers.