The guidelines will regulate the safety, health and environmental operations of the GENCOs and DISCOs, NERC Chairman Dr. Sam Amadi said.
Amadi told The Nation that NERC’s action was to prevent the firms from siting plants indiscriminately and posing security risks to the society, under the pretext of overcoming infrastructural problems. The commission, he said, would ban any of the firms without adequate safety and health standards from operating outside their domain when the guidelines are out.
He said the commission was fine-tuning the guidelines to ensure that the firms carried out their operational obligations without problems.
NERC, he said, had subjected the draft to public scrutiny to get more input. The guidelines will encourage safety of people during the installation, maintenance or operations of equipment by the firms.
Amadi said: ‘’ In anticipation of the entry of private sector participants in the electric power sector, the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is in the process of perfecting guidelines that will ensure that operators do not breach their licence obligations, and at the same time are able to temporarily operate out of compliance, where the urgent need arises.’’
He defined the right to allow the firms operate outside their boundaries as “derogation,’’ adding that the idea is tied to certain safety and health conditions which the companies are obliged to meet.
“Operators would be made to apply to NERC seeking for time to comply with codes and standards, and then submit detailed plans and timelines for eventual compliance,” he said, adding that the commission will consider the applications, and if found not to impinge on health and safety issues, and are justifiable, derogation may be granted.
“We have our expectations from the companies and we would try not to compromise the safety of the operational environment of the operators,’’ he added.
Amadi attributed the development to the weak state of the industry inherited by the new operators, noting that the sector is yet to rid itself of obsolete equipment, a development, he argued, that has made it difficult for the firms to operate and comply with the standards set by NERC on generation, transmission, distribution and customer welfare.
According to him, issues such as distribution networks and customer care are vital to the industry’s growth. He noted that the companies are required to do something along that line. He said the DISCOs were obliged to take care of their customers by opening as many care centres as possible.
Chief Executive Officer, Septa Energy Nigeria Limited Philip Iheancho said the industry is battling with infrastructural problems, adding that the GENCOs’ failure to access gas, among other materials, may force them to open plants outside their base without considering the implications.
Environmental safety, he said, should be given priority when establishing plants in the power sector.
President, Senior Staff Association of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Godwin Ifenacho said the planned privatisation of the National Independent Power Plant (NIPP) projects would succeed if investors were sure of getting production materials. There would be a challenge when the power plants find it difficult to access materials, Iheancho said.
‘’For instance, the distance between Omotoso and Papalanto power plants and Escravos Gas Project in Delta State is long, making it difficult for the plants to access gas for production. Based on this, the operators may be compelled to site gas plants outside their areas of operations, not minding the implications to the health of the environment,’’ he said.