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Stakeholders hopeful of improved transmission as investment hits N1.6tr

By Kingsley Jeremiah, Abuja
17 March 2022   |   4:08 am
Many stakeholders in the Nigerian electricity sector are eager to see results, as the current administration may have invested nothing less than N1.6 trillion in an attempt to stabilise the transmission network and increase wheeling capacity in the country.

[FILES] Transmission Company of Nigeria

•FG invests $2b, JIICA, CBN, AfDB, AFD stake $2b

Many stakeholders in the Nigerian electricity sector are eager to see results, as the current administration may have invested nothing less than N1.6 trillion in an attempt to stabilise the transmission network and increase wheeling capacity in the country.

While the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) last week, took delivery of about 15 new substation transformers, expected to be installed across the country in an attempt to boost transmission capacity by about 1,487 megawatts, about N1.6 trillion ($4 billion) have been invested to keep the network stable from 2015 till date.

Privatised in 2013, electricity supply to homes and industries across the country still face similar challenges, as the level of generation, transmission and distribution remained a mirage.

The Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, had stated during a state house briefing in Abuja, that the implementation of the Siemens deal already started with the purchase of 10 mobile transformers and 10 substations, adding that the pre-engineering segment of the Presidential Power Initiative (PPI) contract has been completed with expectation on contract offers on 127 Transmission and Distribution projects (Brownfield and Greenfield).

According to him, the federal government has many key grid initiatives with more than N125.2 billion budgeted between 2015 and 2021 for TCN and Development Finance Funding through World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), French development agency (AFD), Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and others of up to $1.7 billion.

Also with a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), $250 million funding for the rehabilitation of critical interfaces between Transmission and Distribution to increase and stabilise power delivery, Aliyu noted that with the Siemens Presidential Power Initiative (PPI), the Nigerian government would provide $2 billion or more to the transmission grid.

He said: “This is almost $4 billion secured by this administration to augment the grid. It should be noted that many of these funds are being actively spent and the results will be felt over time. We are working tirelessly to ensure that all of these investments translate to incremental delivered power.”

While the government seeks to increase the capacity of bulk power transmission from over 7,000 megawatts (MW) currently with the new 15 power transformers, most stakeholders are asking for the steady completion of the many projects in the sector, insisting that the country may not make any progress if the grid remains epileptic.

Aliyu disclosed that TCN was delivering 135 ongoing transmission lines, substations and other associated grid infrastructure projects, adding that the company has completed 30 key Substation Projects and 12 important Transmission Lines.

The resuscitation of the second Egbin-Ajah Transmission Line and the recently commissioned NDPHC Lafia 2X150 MVA & 2X60/132/33/330 KV Transmission Substation (under NIPP); the 330kV Quad Lines from Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to Benin as well as the Kano to Katsina 330kV line; the Lagos/Ogun Transmission Infrastructure Project under JICA funding are some of the projects mentioned by the minister.

Aliyu said: “Recently through the CBN intervention for Transmission-Distribution interfaces we have also awarded more than 30 Substation Rehabilitations and 1,570MVA transformer capacity upgrades with 34 critical transformers to be installed or replaced.

“Our investments have improved stability of the grid through the efforts of our System Operator (under TCN). Under this administration, grid stability has drastically improved: in 2021 the Nation only had two adverse grid events (partial or full collapses of the grid). Compare this to a peak of 42 events in 2010 and greater than 0 events every year before 2020.”

The 15 new transformers imported by TCN included 10 units of 60MVA transformer for 132/33kV line capacity and five units of 150MVA 330/132kV capacity transformers, Acting Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of TCN, Dr. Sule Abdulaziz, noted that the contract for the supply of the transformers under the Nigerian Electricity Transmission Project (NETAP) was funded by the World Bank.

After installation and connection to the national power grid, Abdulaziz noted that the increased transmission capacity would be 637MW from 10 of the 60MVA 132/33kV power transformers and another 850MW through the five units of the 150MVA 330/132kV transformers. This will be an additional 1,487MW transmission network capacity, while ensuring N-1 reliability criteria in the substations, which is strategic in enhancing grid stability.

In August last year, the World Bank funded transformer supply contracts, which brought in 10 units of 60MVA132/33kV transformers and 25 earthing transformers. Out of the 10 units of 60MVA transformers, five were installed in Karu and Gombe substations; two are currently being installed in Kano, and one in Lagos State.

“This is the first time in the history of TCN that it took delivery of large numbers of transformers within a short period. These are milestone achievements for TCN, as it strives to implement its short-term development plan under the Nigerian Electricity Grid Maintenance, Expansion, and Rehabilitation Programme (NEGMERP).”

The World Bank-sponsored NETAP project is one of the TCN donor-funded projects aimed at expanding the transmission grid, while also prioritising maintenance of the existing transmission infrastructures.

According to him, TCN is executing several projects funded by the Agence Français de Dévelopement (AFD), while processes for projects funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) is progressing very fast and TCN will soon sign contracts for 330kV & 132kV Substations.

He also said the procurement of consultants for projects funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), will soon commence.

Also speaking, the Assistant General Manager, Material Control and Stores at TCN stores in Ojo, Lagos, Pius Nwachi, gave insight into the delivery of the power equipment.

He said” “We had 10 units of 60MVA transformers that came in and out of that we have sent out five of them already. We are also taking delivery of another set of 100MVA power transformer while others including 150MVA power transformers have been discharged.”

The transformers did not come alone as TCN ensured that they were procured with enough accessories and transformer oil. This is to ensure that maintenance is seamless as we have the parts in the store, according to Nwachi.

Speaking on how some of the transformers have been sent out to installation sites, Nwachi said: “One of the 60MVA power transformers was taken to Egbin to complete a substation project there within the Lagos region. TCN also sent one to Gombe and another 60MVA transformer to Karu in Abuja.

“Of the 10 units of 60MVA power transformers that TCN has acquired, five have already been discharged to various sites while five are on ground for onward deployment. In a short while, TCN will be announcing the commissioning of these various power substation projects which will then boost bulk power supply available to distribution load centres in those areas,” noted Nwachi.

The Managing Director of Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET), Dr. Nnaemeka Eweluka noted that government plans towards a series of interventions to correct the existing mismatch in the sector, adding that the government was targeting a futuristic plan where capacities across the subsector would align.

A legal practitioner and President of the NCPN, Kunle Kola Olubiyo, had told The Guardian that while the investment in the transmission sector is critical, especially the new transformers, there was need to install the facility based on economic needs of the country and not political consideration.

He said it remained unacceptable to place key infrastructure in politicians’ rural settlements, adding that such locations are better powered by off-grid solutions rather than allowing critical infrastructure to remain idle and under-utilized when industrial clusters, urban areas lack the basic infrastructure needed to meet up the daily load demand of bulk users of electricity.

“Location of projects should be strategically tied to economic zones and industrial clusters or industrial parks,” Olubiyo said.