An entire local government area in Gbonyin and over 170 communities in Ekiti were disconnected from the national grid in order to provide quality power supply, Engr. Bamidele Faparusi, the Commissioner of Infrastructure and Public Utilities in Ekiti, has said.
Power availability in the state from the grid ranges between 20MW – 26MW, installed transmission transformer capacity of 80MW, and distribution transformer capacity of 150MW and the state’s power quality experience is said to dates back a decade whereby the quantum of electricity supply allocated to it has always been below the national average.
Faparusi said the development has contributed in no small measure to the poor economic development in the state, and the most critical factor responsible for power quality in Ekiti, he said is “continuity and predictability of service where the Load demand for the State according to the electricity master plan study conducted in 2014 was said to be 200MW at 5% annual incremental rate.”
Speaking recently at the 5th edition of the 2019 Power Nigeria Conference, Faparusi noted that the state is nowhere near breaking the hold of power outages and inconsistent power supply.
He said: “Several communities were put under mass disconnection tactically to achieve power quality as defined by the Distribution Companies (Discos), by its refusal to carry out maintenance works on the electricity network to those communities.”
He revealed that; “As we speak, over 170 rural communities are un-served by the Disco, in terms of connection to the national grid.
“For example, an entire LGA, Gbonyin and several other communities are disconnected from the grid in other to maintain good power quality within the state capital while the greater number of our communities at both urban, small towns and rural communities are underserved.”
This quality of power supply to the identified undeserved communities according to Faparusi have resulted in different issues between the customers and the Disco which include “conflict between electricity users and the Disco, public unrest and protest, damage to valuable equipment and appliances, loss of revenue by the Disco, and general apathy on the part of the consumers in the payment of electricity charges.”
He advised that all efforts should be geared towards ameliorating the challenges of poor quality of power in Ekiti State and indeed in Nigeria to curb the buildup of frenzy for protest against the Discos.
“Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), and NEMSA have the responsibility of monitoring compliance of technical code and standard of all operators while the Consumer Affairs Division of NERC has the responsibility of ensuring that the operators meet the minimum standard of service as provided for in the relevant regulations so that customer unrest can be nipped in the bud.
“The Eligible Customer Regulations 2017 NO.NERC-R-111 has as part of its objectives, the opportunity for improvement in the quality of electricity supply. Similarly, Regulation No: NERC/-R-110/17 on the Regulation of Mini-Grids 2016 expects Mini-Grid Operators to maintain quality of service in accordance with the agreement executed with the community.”
Engr. Faparusi further recommended that, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), should work across board to remove all technical restrictions hindering the evacuation of electricity generated by Gencos.
“Franchising of Discos should be encouraged because it is obvious that territory assigned to some Discos is too large for them to manage profitably and efficiently, however, the franchising that will not lead to grid infrastructure upgrade, metering, good technical supports, improved revenue collection and management of franchise area makes chaos inevitable.”
“A mechanism for collaboration should be developed between Discos whose primary motive is profit and governments who have social responsibility and political obligation of ensuring development. A situation where any investment by the state government into the network is considered a gift to Discos is unprogressive.
“Feeder segmentation through appropriate city planning, enforcement of planning rules and government investment in urban renewal initiatives will by no little means improve power quality because it will be easy for Discos to effectively load shed to achieve predictability of service.”
He also advised that NERC and NEMSA should live up to their responsibility of ensuring compliance with stipulated rules and guidelines saying, there is a need for huge investment in the upgrade of the distribution network to attain smartness.