Chineme Okafor, writes that the 11 electricity distribution companies in Nigeria's power sector can make the most of idle distribution amenities built by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited to serve their customers efficiently.
A recent project execution report of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Ltd (NDPHC) had stated that power distribution companies (Discos) are failing to engage distribution amenities built in their networks to improve supply to their customers.
From the latest report of the NDPHC, the distribution efficiencies of the 11 Discos ought to have grown from the distribution amenities built by the NDPHC as intervention projects.
According to the report, an initial 296 distribution projects the NDPHC built had been handed over to the Discos, in addition to another 104 described by the NDPHC to boost their service delivery to Nigerians.
But the Discos have not really taken over them and have equally not fared better in their distribution of electricity to Nigerians.
According to another report obtained from the System Operations Department of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), the distribution capacities of the Discos have continued to decline. And this according to experts is unhealthy for the power sector.
The Managing Director of the NDPHC, Mr. Chiedu Ugbo, had informed THISDAY, that the power Discos were reluctant to take over the various distribution facilities built by his company to support their operations. The recent report however suggested that this may not have changed.
The NDPHC project implementation report thus stated that about 296 distribution projects with a capacity of 3897.5 megavolt amp (MVA) had been completed for the Discos.
The 296 projects from industry-based computation should be able to reinforce the Discos' networks by about 3118 megawatts (MW), hence suggesting that the Discos should have more than the meagre capacity they currently declare.
Reportedly built and commissioned for the Discos to take over and engage in the supply of electricity to their customers, the 296 distribution infrastructure from the NDPHC project report obtained by THISDAY include 33/11 kilovolt (kV) injection substations with 1,924 kilometres (km) of 33kV and 4,600km of 11kV lines, as well as 25,006 completely self-protected (CPS) transformers. From this number, up to 3,897.5MVA of injection substation capacity and 1,291MVA of distribution transformer capacity were added to the stock of the Discos.
Additionally, from another 104 intervention projects in the Discos' networks, the NDPHC indicated that a total of 719km of 33kV lines and 160km of 11kV lines were added to their networks which were also reinforced by 250 CPS transformers, 185MVA injection substations and 125MVA distribution transformer capacity.
However, while this was expected to raise the Discos' distribution efficiencies and the level of electricity in the country, they have not actually resulted to the desired impact for several reasons.
Distribution capacity decline
The TCN's SO department recently declared that the level of electricity distribution by the 11 Discos has significantly dropped to 2962.82MW or 46.73 per cent of their certified distribution capacity.
The SO in the report on unutilised electricity capacity noted that the capacity of the 11 Discos were 6235.66MW. It did not state if it included the addition from the NDPHC, but showed that it dropped to 2962.82MW.
Clearly explaining the situation, it noted that while the Discos usually nominate to take an average of 3700.58MW from the national grid, they eventually took about 2962.82MW, indicating a shortage of distribution capacity.
It further stated that the volume taken by the Discos were often below the daily supply volume approved in the Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO) by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) which is 4654.15MW.
According to the report, for instance, on August 27, the Abuja Disco had the capacity to distribute 804.30MW but nominated to take 399MW from the grid.
It however ended up taking 382.18MW. Benin Disco which has a capacity of 530.98MW only took 216.97MW from the grid on that day while Eko with a distribution capacity of 745.30MW took 429.92MW.
For Enugu which has a confirmed distribution capacity of 637.18 eventually took 252.20MW on that day; Ibadan with 758.75MW took 421.99MW; Ikeja has 773.60MW distribution capacity but took 326.83MW; Jos with 355MW took 134.32MW for distribution to its customers; Kaduna which has the capacity to distribute 468.10MW only took 171.24MW to its customers; Kano with 424MW equally took only 141.51MW on that day.
The two other Discos in the market - Port Harcourt and Yola have capacity to respectively distribute 505.30MW and 233.15MW, but on August 27, took only 188.18MW and 113.17MW respectively to their customers.
Likely reasons for the decline
However, the NDPHC in its project report, provided possible reasons for such decline in distribution capacity.
It stated that part of the challenges of the distribution networks were theft and vandalism of installed distribution facilities, particularly those it handed over to the Discos.
The NDPHC equally noted that the Discos have remained difficult to deal with, "despite the fact that we are handing over these projects to them on completion which will enhance their capacities to supply electricity to Nigerians."
It stated that for instance, the intervention projects it did in the distribution networks were necessitated by the low coverage or penetration of the initial 296 distribution projects it handled for the networks, as well as requests from stakeholders potentially on account of the Discos' inability to extend distribution amenities to them.
Indicating that the Discos should not have limited challenges with taking electricity to its consumers across the country, the NDPHC noted that it built six high-end distribution facilities in 2015; 10 in 2016; 24 in 2017; 19 in 2018 and another six in 2019, with seven more yet to be completed in the year.
These projects it added existed in Delta; Borno, Kogi, Lagos, Cross River, Katsina, Ondo, Sokoto, Abuja, Niger, Osun, Zamfara, and Bauchi states.
Anambra, Imo, Oyo, Nasarawa, Plateau, Ogun, Kaduna, Abia, Yobe, Edo, Kebbi, Gombe, and Jigawa amongst other states were beneficiaries of the distribution projects which has a total of 25,900 CPS transformers installed across board.
Ugbo, had also revealed that on the average, each of the distribution substations completed by the NDPHC could take about 15MW of electricity for distribution to consumers.
Lamenting the failure of the Discos to take over the distribution infrastructure, he had said: "We have several substations like this and Discos have not taken them for so many reasons, especially when it has to do with difficulty to operationalise the stations, particularly when they are in remote areas and villages. They believe it does not make economic sense to take over stations in such areas.
"We deliberated on this in the power sector meeting. The minister and the regulator, we are working to see how this challenge will be resolved. We have quite a number of these substations and I can't tell you the actual figure now," he had added.
Beyond the distribution end of the sector, the transmission network has also received some intervention from the NDPHC.
The report stated that up to 2,194km of 330KV transmission lines and 887km of 132kV transmission lines have been completed with 10 new 330/132kV transmission substations as well as eight 132/33kV substations completed to add 5,590MVA and 3,493MVA capacities at 330kV and 132kV levels to the national grid.
Speaking recently at a project commissioning exercise in Abeokuta, Ogun state, Ugbo stated that: "NDPHC's contribution to the transmission grid system has transformed the hitherto radial 330kV/132kV grid into a more robust grid system."
He noted that this is, "with significant provision of alternative power flow routes which now serve as redundancies and which has resulted in a more reliable and stable Nigeria grid."
According to him, the commissioning of the about 220km long 330kV Double Circuit (DC) lines providing alternative supply route into Abuja from Geregu, through a new Lokoja substation in Kogi state, as well as Gwagwalada substation into the existing substations owned by the TCN in Katampe and Apo parts of Bauja was significant.
Similarly, in other parts of the country, he noted that: "A 12-circuit switching station was built at Ikot Ekpene for marshalling power evacuated from Calabar, Afam, Alaoji and Ikot Abasi based power plants.
"From this hub, over 800km long DC lines emanate as a power backbone to flow power to Jos and the northeast through Ugwuaji and Makurdi in Enugu and Benue states."
According to Ugbo, the 2,686km of 330KV and 752.6km of 132KV transmission lines represented an increase of 40 and 14 per cents respectively in the transmission grid.
He said 17 new 330KV sub-stations and 14 new 132/33KV sub-stations were added to the grid, stating further that: "Several other existing substations significantly expanded thereby adding 4,300MVA and 2,070MVA of transformer capacity at 330kV and 132kV levels respectively to the national grid."
About 30 transmission projects that inherited from the last management of the NDPHC, he explained, were completed to complement the 70 distribution projects that have been completed.
"In addition to the projects we are commissioning here today, we shall in the next few months be commissioning Awka 2X60MVA 132/33kV substation in Anambra State, Adiabo 2X60MVA 132/33KV sub-station in Cross River State.
"We shall also in the same period be commissioning major distribution injection substations at Misau and Darazu in Bauchi State, Kumo in Gombe State and Agaye in Niger State," Ugbo added.