The sustainable power supply efforts being initiated by the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration to effect marked improvement in the sector, while enhancing the quality of life of the people, certainly involves mastery and firm control of societal dynamics.
Thus, industry watchers and stakeholders have continually pointed out that the entrenched practice of laying emphasis on power generation without tackling the problem of transmission and effective distribution was partly responsible for the setbacks recorded in the sector.
Nevertheless, creating a practical template to actualise many of the potentially promising initiatives currently driven by the Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji, energy pundits said would solve the lingering problem of lack of power supply.
Charting a way out of the power problem at a Town Hall Meeting with the theme: “Attaining Sustainable and Reliable Power Supply,” organised by the Federal Ministry of Power, held recently in Lagos, the Niger State governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, said there was need to adopt the right approach in solving the lingering problem that has always portrayed the country as one that has a covenant with darkness.
He lamented that the country has expended a lot of money to date on the provision of steady power with very little results to show for it, adding that in the military era, the power sector was totally neglected.
The governor said that if desired results were to be achieved, all stakeholders must be fully involved in charting the way forward.
While an effective solution was already being deployed, he added that people must resolve to fight corruption which was retarding development in the power sector.
For the Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, there was need for power generation in the country to be balanced with conservation if the nation was sincere about meeting her energy needs.
Fashola said it was doubtful if any country has met her power needs by generation alone, explaining that Nigerians must imbibe the culture of using power prudently.
He added that although there was a shortage of power, the questions begging for answers were: “Are we using what is available optimally? Are we using energy saving bulbs? Are we putting our appliances on standby modes? Are we always using air conditioners or enjoying the benefits of fresh air as an alternative.
“Are we engaging in illegal electricity connection and thereby frittering away free power? These are lifetime changes we have to make .We can do a lot with what we have now. It is a combination of very useful conservation that will take us to achieve the theme of this Town Hall Meeting.
“Attaining sustainable power supply is possible but will require a combination of appropriate generation and appropriate conservation,” the governor added.
He maintained that power provision was not an end but a means to an end, saying this explains why the State Government at its Economic Summit entitled: “Ehingbeti 2012,” considered the sector as very critical.
According to him, the Lagos State Government believed that if it partnered with the central government, the state could really achieve prosperity.
Fashola, who spoke in support of the deregulation of the power sector, affirmed that it was a sensible decision, adding that the position was informed by the fact that globally, private operators run and drive utilities.He maintained that the operators minimise wastes through efficient utilisation of resources.
Harping on the idea of a uniformed price regime in the sector, he said: “The idea of a uniform price for the urban poor and rural dwellers, is it possible to achieve it in real terms? Is the cost of production across the country uniform? These are questions we really must ask.”
He said that the present administration was in the process of delivering six power projects to the state, with two of them already up and running.
Still in search of solution and workable pattern, the governors of the 36 states under the aegis of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) have resolved to support the constitutional amendment that would facilitate a speedy unbundling of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
The chairman of the forum and governor of Rivers State, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, who spoke about the frustrating situation in the power sector where a state could not distribute power generated from its facility due to the monopoly being enjoyed by PHCN, said the time to change strategy has come.
According to him:“We have a total of 545 megawatts of power in Rivers State and nobody can feel power simply because you have made a law that empowers the Federal Government to distribute power alone. So Rivers State has 545 Megawatts of power and we need just 400 Megawatts but can’t discharge this power to our people.”
Amaechi queried the rationale for holding on to a regulatory framework which clearly retards development rather than accelerates it.
In what industry watchers regard as a sermon of hope and restoration, the Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, ahead of June 1st effective date of the new electricity tariff had said that his ministry has got the right template to fast- track the process of ensuring stable power supply in the country.
According to him, several critical transmission projects have been executed to ensure unhindered evacuation of electricity generated by the power plants.
The minister asserted that the projects were being executed to expand the national grid for increased power wheeling capacity and system flexibility.
Nnaji assured that with the new line of action, transmission network problem, which had been a major issue in the sector would be fully addressed as government was determined to deal with issues that would become impediments in delivering efficient and stable power to the people of this country.
The minister, at the Town Hall Meeting, said that Nigeria was in the process of developing her transmission network, adding that from July, the transmission network would be private sector-managed.
“They will bring in speed, be able to anticipate issues and problems and address them proactively,” he said.
Whether it would work or not, a summary of the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO2) under the 2012 tariff order showed that various Distribution Companies (DISCOS) across the country have different energy charges for various classes of customers in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The MYTO 2 retail tariffs places power consumers under five categories-Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Special customers.
The fifth category comes under Street Lighting. Under the MYTO 2, Residential customers are further classified as- R1 (lowest-income consumers), R2 (single and three phase), R3 (Low Voltage Maximum Demand) and R4 (High Voltage Maximum Demand). Also, Commercial users (C1-3), Industrial users (D1-3) and Special Customers (A1-A3) are also placed under three categories, namely- Single and Three Phase, Low Voltage Maximum Demand and High Voltage Maximum Demand customers.
There is also another class, Street Lighting (S1), identified as Single and Three Phase customers. The document reveal that while the R1 customers would pay the lowest bill, energy charges for R2.4 customers under the new tariff regime would vary from one Distribution Company (DISCO) to another, and according to operational costs.
R2 to R4 customers under the Abuja DISCO, for example , would pay between N11.74k and N24.94k from 2012 to 2015; Commercial (C1-C3) customers would pay between N16.56 and N23.18k, Industrial customers (D1-3), N16.97 and N24.30k per kilowatt hour from 2012 to 2015. Also, Special 1-3 customers, N16.24k/kwh and N17.90k/kwh, while Street Lighting would attract a charge of between N12.47 and N14.78/kwh, from 2012 up to 2015.
The Benin Distribution Company (DISCO) energy charge for R2-4 customers would range from between N11.37 and N22.36/kwh, Commercial customers, N15.84/kwh and N20.78/kwh, Industrial, N15.21 and N21.79, while Special energy charges are between N14.56 and N16.0/kwh and Street Lighting N15.00/kwh and N16.54.
The Enugu DISCO’s R2-4 would pay between N12.89 and N25.83/kwh, Commercial users, N17.28 andN24.01, Industrial customers, N17.57 and N25.17, Special customers, N16.82 and N21.33 and Street Lighting, N12.90 and N16.36.
Ibadan DISCO would charge R2-4 consumers between N12.30 and N27.09, Commercial users, N15.48 and N25.18, Industrial users, N17.55 and N26.39, Special customers, N16.80 to N19.45, while Street Lighting charge is put at N12.90 to N14.93.
The Jos DISCO energy charge for R2-4 customers would range between N12.99 and N27.09, Commercial, N17.00 to N25 .18, Industrial, N17.00 to N26.39; Special, N16.80 to N19.45, while Street Light charge is between N17.00 and N18.74.
The Ikeja DISCO will charge between N12.45 and N23.87 to R2-4 customers, Commercial users, N16.56 to N22.18; Industrial users, N16.38 to N23.25, Special customers, N15.68 to N17.13, and Street Lighting, N12.04 to N13.16/kwh.