Stakeholders want SON to monitor imported renewable energy equipment
AS Nigeria is facing absence of a policy and legislations to drive renewable energy option, stakeholders have enjoined Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to wake up in its duty of ensuring that imported renewable energy equipment meet national and international standards.
They also agreed that government and political parties should put in place incentives and policies that will encourage and attract renewable energy investments into the country, while Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) should provide sufficient regulations to encourage the use of renewable energy.
In a recommendations issued after its Town Hall Meetings held recently in Enugu and Lagos organised by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) with the Support of Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBF) Nigeria, they said that civil society should engage candidates and the political parties on the issue of electric power and sustainability. Renewable energy is most vital at this stage of development and should be pursued with vigour by the federal, state and local governments.
According to the meeting, adequate Environment Impact Assessments (EIAs) should be done before the decision to establish coal fired electricity generating plants in the coal regions as the environmental and health implication are enormous.
The Lead Director CSJ, Eze Onyekpere noted that the meeting deemed it necessary to deepen discussions on sustainable development and governance; a call on Nigerians to explore all avenues/platforms of electoral discourse and debate to engage potential political parties and their candidates, as well as the government, on their plans for achieving sustainable energy for the Nigerian People.
CSJ engaged participants on the importance of sustainable clean energy and governance. The meetings were attended by Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the Resident Electoral Commissioners of the States, and the Nigerian Bar Association chairmen. Though the Enugu DISCO, the Eko and Ikeja Distribution Companies as well as the campaign directors of the governorship candidates of the political parties were invited, they failed and neglected to attend the meetings.
CSJ Program Officer, Donald Ofoegbu, while presenting his paper titled; “The Case for Renewable Energy: the Key to Nigeria’s Many Problems” noted that an idle mind and poverty are the products of the absence of sustainable power supply.
The epileptic power supply has become a major cause of unrest in Nigeria and has continued to swallow up developmental funds in the form of fuelling and maintaining generator sets. According to NERC, Nigerians spent about N796.4billion to fuel generator sets and this contributes to environmental degradation.
He advocated for the full embrace of clean renewable energy technology in Nigeria, there is need to understand that in the choice of an energy source, human health and the environment need not be sacrificed. Nigerian has lots of potentials for solar, wind, biomass, and hydro which can be harnessed to provide sustainable clean energy. Condemning the choice of coal which is the most dirty and outdated energy source, he called on coal bearing communities, civil society, medical practitioners, traditional leaders and the power agency to exercise great caution in the quest of coal to power.
Dr Sam Amadi the Chairman/CEO NERC in his presentation noted that renewable energy is imperative to the Nigerian energy mix; it is the future for powering remote, hard to access and isolated rural areas of Nigeria.
He reported that NERC is currently designing alongside the power sector reform, the transition to a more sustainable energy future by regulating for a greatly improved energy efficient Nigeria. He also said that INEC licensing methodology includes requirements of approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA); NERC has expanded collaboration with institutions of higher learning to harness different renewable energy potentials and technologies. He identified the main regulatory issues in renewable energy based power supply as tariff setting; guidelines for plant sighting; guideline for power evacuation; interconnection rules and standards; model PPA; regulatory incentives. Others are determination of renewable portfolio standard (RPS) which should be based on potentials and total cost implications; monitoring and enforcement of RPS and compliance mechanism for RPS.
NERC’s approach to renewable energy regulation is to evolve light handed regulations aimed at enhancing their viability amidst the entrenched conventional sources. This include: Relaxed entry terms- for example, new entrants may be required simply to register or receive a permit in order to provide a basis for addressing safety, environmental or public health concerns: Concessionary Price regulation – setting tariff at cost-recovery levels, instead of leaving it to competition, using subsidies to bridge the gap between tariffs; Feed-in Tariff. Others are Quality regulation – allowing flexibility and service level differentiation between categories of providers and for evolving standards.
Recalling that the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 has removed obstacles in the legal engagement of electricity companies, the Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association Enugu chapter, Osita Ogbu called on Nigerians to take advantage of the removal of the immunity from suit and legal process to hold DISCOs accountable for the performance of their service obligations. Over-bloated bills, high voltage that destroys household equipment, etc are some engagement points that Nigerians should use to hold DISCOs accountable. He announced that the Enugu NBA has initiated a pro bono litigation programme that can assist poor and indigent Nigerians to claim their rights against electricity service providers.