The Chairman of the Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), Mr. Atedo Peterside, has warned that if the twin problem of weak transmission and gas constraint are not addressed with dispatch, they could hamper Nigeria’s aspiration to achieve steady power supply after the power sector privatisation.
Peterside, who spoke at a recent forum on Financing the Power Sector Reforms for Economic Development, organised by The Bankers’ Committee, noted that transmission, which is the ‘life-blood’ of the entire electricity eco-system is potentially the weakest link at present.
He said currently, the power generation due to weak transmission evacuation was in the region of 100mw, adding that if the transmission problem was not addressed by 2014, there would be a very big crisis when the ten National Integrated Power Plants (NIPP) would come on stream.
Peterside said aside from the transmission issue, another major problem that could hamper regular power supply was inadequate gas to fire the gas thermal stations.
He said: “Transmission is the “life-blood” of this entire electricity “eco-system” and it is also potentially the “weakest link” at present. I am reliably informed that, currently, stranded capacity due to transmission evacuation constraints is in the region of 100 MW. The other ‘weak link’ is gas supply and gas transportation, as Nigeria is predominantly reliant on gas-fired power plants. While gas supply constraints arising from capacity shortfalls/lags can be foreseen, the impact induce damaging shocks to the health of the entire electricity value chain.”
He expressed concern over the slow pace at which the board of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) was handling federal government’s mandate to it owing to squabbling and in fighting within the board.
“Unfortunately, the Board of TCN is yet to get its act together. Since the appointment of a Chairman and some initial board members was first announced some months ago, so much time appears to have been lost in squabbling over who does what, when and how. If the TCN does not deliver the goods in 2014, there will be a ‘crisis of sorts’ when the ten NIPP power plants come on stream. The same can be said for the Gas Supply and Gas Transportation arrangements. From the foregoing, it is obvious that we can only have a Healthy and Self-Sustaining Electricity Value Chain if we are financing the expansion of all components of this intricately interwoven sector and if the various parties are competent, proactive and behaving responsibly,” he said.
He said the ability of the TCN to catch up with generation availability and also keep pace with future expansion would depend on its continued access to financing for its huge capex needs and its ability to execute and rigorously monitor project implementation to high professional standards.
Peterside said the architecture of the federal government’s Power Sector Roadmap rests on seven critical pillars – empowering the regulator (NERC); establishing a bulk trader; introducing cost reflective tariffs; engaging a management contractor for TCN; privatisation of Gencos; privatisation of Discos and strengthening of the Fuel-to-Power Arrangements.
The technical committee chairman noted that the successful sale of the power assets and their subsequent hand over to the new investor was just the beginning of the power privatization journey.
He added: “It is pertinent to remember that this is really the “beginning of a journey” and not the “end of a journey” as some have mistaken it to be. As we all know, the purpose of privatising the Discos and Gencos was not just to transfer ownership of the assets. The primary purpose was to bring into play new owners with “deep pockets” who could finance and/or access financing for the rapid restoration of lost capacity and/or add significant new capacity to make up for decades of government neglect and mismanagement.”
He explained that the nine PHCN Gencos (in¬ cluding Omotosho and Olorunsogo) only had available capacity of 2,692mw as at September 10, 2013, as against a total installed capacity of 6,976.40mw.
He stated that financing the necessary capex to fund this incremental 4,284.4mw that was required to achieve full capacity (crudely estimated at $1m per megawatt approximately) will cost an additional $4.28billion.
“For the Discos, some very significant investments will also be required to improve efficiencies and reduce Aggregate, Technical Commercial and Collection Losses. Based on the proposals submitted by the core investors, new meters will be installed over the course of the next five years.
Furthermore, he said: “At an estimated weighted average cost (purchase and installation) of N25,000 per meter, this amounts to over N150bn.The bulk of this should be recoverable from the consumer, but then the distribution infrastructure also needs to be modernised and expanded to achieve greater coverage. The 11 Discos are projecting annual capital expenditures in the region of N60 billion per annum for each of the next five years.”
Information from This Day was used in this report.