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‘Privatisation was not designed to tackle irregular power supply’

13 May 2015   |   3:58 am
IN spite of privatization of the power sector, the country has not been able to achieve regular power supply. What do you think is the problem? I think the problem is that ipso facto, the privatization of the power sector was not designed by those who packaged it to be a means towards ending the problem of irregular power supply in the country.

Goody Duru-Oguzie

Goody Duru-Oguzie, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, PowTech Group Limited, Energy and Power Plant Consultant, in this interview with ROSELINE OKERE, he talks about government efforts in the privatization process and the way out. Excerpts.

IN spite of privatization of the power sector, the country has not been able to achieve regular power supply. What do you think is the problem? I think the problem is that ipso facto, the privatization of the power sector was  not designed by those who packaged it to be a means towards ending the problem of irregular power supply in the country.

In other words, the privatization  was not a people’s oriented idea and to that extent, the incoming government riding on its manifesto that emphasizes benefits for the people, needs to tinker with it especially by ensuring removal of political influences in line with the global practice which allows  carrier professionals with  core competence  and practical experience in managing such a critical sector to play the lead role in designing an acceptable process.

What is your assessment of the Gencos and Discos performance in the country? Because the privatization  that produced them was not designed to address the issue of irregular power supply, the management and operations of the Gencos and Discos which are products of the same faulty privatization were inherently programmed not to address the challenge of irregular power supply.

It is therefore easy to understand why they have no consideration towards deploying methodologies for improving power generation, supply and  expansion of distribution to ameliorate the sufferings of the people.

What are the measures you think the country can put in place in order to enjoy stable power supply? Review the current privatization of the power sector and adopt a modified concept that has an element of monitor- able transparency built into it in a manner that focuses on quantifiable incremental capacities/supply increases that must be met over agreed periods between 0-3-6-9-12 months as the irrevocable  minimum condition that power infrastructure owners must be committed to in order to qualify or continue to operate.

Any in ability to meet these terms must be sanctioned; when these terms are enforced, the owners would wake up from their deep slumber and be ready to improve on their services or be shipped out.

The implementation of the above suggested modification of the current privatization, would  naturally compel the Genco’s and Disco’s to invest in procurement of best available technologies for deployment to improve their services and most especially meet the irrevocable minimum conditions as set out under the reviewed privatization law.

They would therefore readily acquire such technologies like smart grids and be able to strengthen the transmission and distribution network within their respective operating zones in a manner as to contribute towards reducing the frequency of grid system failures amongst many other technical hiccups that affect power distribution efficiency.

With sanity in place, the Disco’s and Genco’s would readily  embrace research & development to come up with applicable technologies for improving their ability to remain compliant like: introducing bulk power storage systems, energy conservation, electrical power optimization and voltage regulation initiatives, all of which will enable them guarantee availability of redundant power to meet incidental shortages.

Do you think the All Progressive Congress (APC) policy for the power sector will bring a lasting solution to epileptic power supply in the country? Following from APC ‘s web based highlight of its agenda for the power sector, I  suggest the below additions/modifications, if indeed APC truly desires to bring a solution to the challenge of epileptic power supply in the country.

Undertake an independent technical audit of the entire power  and energy infrastructure -Generation, Distribution and Transmission, etc with a view towards  identifying reasons for power generation and electricity supply capacity deficiencies/failures while setting timelines for addressing all noted issues under a reviewed/ modified privatization for the power sector.

I found that APC’s power policy did not tell us the “How?” What? “, “When”, and “Where” they intend to  achieve the task of meeting Nigeria’s power needs within the next ten years.

However, concerning How, What, When and Where,  I have a couple of ideas which this medium would not permit me to elaborate on being knowledgeable about the entire Nigerian power sector backed with data since 1999.

Encourage local and international investors to invest in building new generation of power plants in Nigeria while providing them with a well researched compendium of power sector generation resources existing within each state of the federation along with  power infrastructure prospects in Nigeria developed by the ministry of power under an APC government  as an awareness  guide.

Extend and strengthen the National grid, develop more regional grids along with new local Mini grids and build new gas pipelines across the country to improve  gas delivery for energy generation.

Explore the potentials for developing Hydro kinetic and Ocean waves based power generation alongside exploring the kinetic energy embedded in perennial rivers found in almost all states of Nigeria for  small and medium capacity hydropower  including waste to power plants that qualify for carbon credit foreign currency inflow into Nigeria.

Encourage investment in building more gas processing plants for conversion of associated gas and production of  sufficient gas for supply to domestic power stations in order to end erratic power supplies.

Therefore if the incoming  APC government can summon the political will to implement the above policies as suggested, they can surely bring a lasting solution to the problem of epileptic power supply in the country.

Recently the Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria (ECAN) urged the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to give room for the establishment of Emergency Power Plants particularly for industrial area.

What is your opinion about this? The ECAN are talking too much. They should demonstrate more seriousness by following the example from those who have built embedded power plants to meet specific demands like theirs.

The NERC guidelines for embedded power generation, licensing requirements etc are friendly to those who seriously desire to build embedded power plants so long as they meet all operational, environmental and safety rules.

Lagos has successfully built its 10mw embedded power plant for powering its operations at Alausa government offices. They are also planning same for Ilupeju, Apapa and Ikeja industrial areas in order to ameliorate power challenges faced by industries in those areas.

What has been the contribution of PowTech Power International Limited to the power sector of the country? Our Group of companies; Pow Technologies Ltd & PowTech Power International Ltd have collectively made verifiable contributions towards development of the power sector in Nigeria through numerous case study presentations to guide government policy makers since 1999 till date, we have organized competence based case study training programs for the sectors managers and operators, we have also offered technical consultancy and support to NAPTIN on training for operator in the power sector.

Lately we have introduced to the power sector the technology, products and knowhow for overcoming the challenge of insufficient power supply to consumers as well how to achieve substantial reduction in energy bills from Discos.

How can your company assist the government to solve the issue of irregular power supply in the country? Our company can assist government overcome the issue of irregular power due to insufficient power.

We can provide interim solution to this problem while awaiting the coming to stream of more power , should they accept the  introduction  and deployment of our energy optimizing, conservation, microprocessor high voltage regulator and improved electrical efficiency based technology that would enable the Genco’s generate power at say; 3800mw as currently noted, while the Disco’s would be distributing 4,750Mw (25% above what is generated ) without investing in building new transmission or distribution infrastructure .

Therefore in the face of the current power supply challenges, we can assist the incoming APC  government solve the problem of  irregular power supply occasioned by insufficient power by creating “ a very appreciable degree of sufficiency” which will regularize the power supply by 25% across board.

This is one of the low hanging fruits that APC could deploy in the interim to cushion the pains of irregular power supply to the people.

Most of the GENCOS have been blaming poor performance on gas supply. Do you agree and if not what do you think are the main challenges of the GENCOS and your recommendation for solutions. To an extent, the issue of inadequate gas supply has affected the  performance of the Genco’s.

However, am also aware that even when there is appreciable gas supply some of the Genco’s still perform poorly.

Therefore should the Genco’s improve on their numerous other lapses that contribute to frequent in-house oriented failures with attendant outages and embrace a higher standard of operational competence through increased investment in research and development and training as to be able to embrace innovative ideas and enable practice of  effective condition assessment, utility auditing, analysis and cost evaluation, upgrade auditing and planning, predictive maintenance regimentation, repowering audits, interpretation and critical response remedies, etc

They would be able to reduce the mean time between failures, reduce the rate of failure induced outages, increase plant availability and reliability as well as sustain generated capacities over time.

We have also noted that the contribution  to outages from in-house operational lapses far outweigh the issues of gas supply shortage which does not create too much prolonged downtime like those created by in-house failures and as such the frequent reference to lack of gas supply could be a cover-up to inherent in-house lapses and needs to be investigated.

Is it right for the NERC to raise tariff  in view of inability of consumers to enjoy 24 hours supply? NERC was created to function as a driver of the current privatization and if the privatization is not a people’s oriented one, it follows that the NERC would have no reservation in raising its tariff whether the people like it or not. Let’s hope the incoming APC government would provide the needed answers to your question.