By ABAH ADAH, Abuja
The federal government yesterday said it is not against state governments developing their own power projects to support development and supply of incremental power.
Minster of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, stated this on Thursday at a meeting of the National Council on Power (NACOP) in Jos.
He said: “I heard statements to the effect that Federal Government should allow the states to develop their own power projects.
“The truth is that federal government is not standing on the way of any state; the laws do not stand in the way of any state to develop power projects.
“Because as governor, we built seven power plants, government did not stop us; what we could not do is to do commercial distribution which the law actually allows under license through Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).”
The federal government also urged state governments in the country to wake up to the call of paying electricity bills at the state and local government level promptly while ensuring that plans are put in place towards offsetting all verifiable debts owed the electricity distribution companies (DisCos) as soon as possible.
The Minister who hailed the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) 2005, describing as the best thing ever to have happened to the sector said the Act also made provisions for investors to make harmless profit.
He however expressed regret that it has been discovered that the bulk of the MDAs’ debts being claimed by the DisCos were incurred at the state and local government level.
“For example, out of the estimated MDA debts of about N90Billion claimed by the DisCos, only about N27Billion has been verified as debts owed by the FGN.
“There are invoices which show that other parts of the debt are attributable to service points at States and local governments.
“I will urge first that states and local governments insist that their buildings are metered so that they can budget for and pay for energy they use. It will turn out to be cheaper than diesel generated power and also help reduce loss of income by DisCos.
“Furthermore, I urge state governments to set up small teams with audit capacity to verify debts owed by them and their local governments, ascertain the quantum and develop a payment plan which can then be budgeted for. This will help to reduce the liquidity issues and contribute to the reforms,” the Minister said.
Fashola equally urged state governments to invest more in power as the law empowers any willing investor, saying “it is only logical and necessary for states and local Governments to own and participate in the implementation of the 2005 Law and the PSRP.”