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Opinions of Monday, 22 March 2021

Columnist: Awe

Who will rescue Nigeria from darkness (2)

This is because there are equipment from the surplus power market on the ground that can be deployed as fast as possible once a PPA agreement is executed, and the natural gas infrastructure can also be in place within the above stated period.

Not only that, there are capable human resources to operate and maintain the gas engines and turbines locally without losing forex (in dollars) to technical experts as before.

The very interesting aspect of this is the fact that no payment upfront is required from the Disco or the community to build the required power plant by the IPP.

The entire business transaction can be on Build Operate and Transfer or on Build Operate & Own basis.

The power plant’s electricity upon inauguration would be sold to consumers directly or through the Disco network, this of course will be for a reasonable period of time to re-equip the money spent in building the power plant infrastructure. A win-win affair, you’d say.

But talking seriously, our problem in Nigeria isn’t really that of generation but its evacuation, which is the transportation and delivery of generated power to consumers through the TCN and the various Discos.

It may interest you to know that, Nigeria (through Gencos) produces far more electricity now than the capacity which is being transported to electricity consumers.

The sad aspect of it is that these Gencos don’t get paid for all the electricity generated and delivered to Discos through the TCN and market operators, this bad habit of non-repayment for used electricity has put almost every Generation company (Gencos) in serious debt as of now.

Debt to who, you’d ask? Debt to the natural gas suppliers to fire the turbine engines, debt to the bankers that funded equipment purchase, debt to experts handling supply of spare parts and equipment maintenance and even debt to the staff on salary payment which is not usually paid as at when due.

Not forgetting the government agency (NBET), set up to guarantee the Gencos’ power supply vis-a-vis payment, this has been messed up and run aground due to lack of adequate financial instrument to provide continued guarantee.

Hence, the reason why the current Minister of Power is seriously considering and promoting the willing buyer, willing seller model. A model which is sometimes referred to as embedded generation.

This model will make communities or estates and clusters of industrial concern to have power on a 24/7 basis without going through middle organisations such as the TCN, MO, NBET and Discos.

It’s a process whereby power substations within localities are directly supplied with dedicated generated electricity by the IPPs. In this way, electricity consumers won’t be disturbed by the usual network failures or breakdown excuses.

We’ve been canvassing this type of generation vis-a-vis supply of power since the Goodluck Jonathan era, hoping that those managing the affairs of the nation’s power sector would wake up to reality at this time.

But be that as it may, Nigerians should be prepared and ready to pay for the 24/7 electricity when it’s eventually received.

The idea of circumventing power or idea of power is supposed to be given free of charge should be a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, we usually forget that a lot of money goes into buying of owned generators (be it diesel or petrol), so also do we spend money on a daily basis in procuring fuel (diesel and petrol) to fire or run the same. How about service and maintenance of these owned generators, repair and spare parts procurement when the need arises.

What about the generator operators or security guards operating the same at home (do you ever think of the salaries paid to them?).

And if you don’t have operators, have you taught of the inconveniences of waking up at nights to switch on and off generators when normal utility power is available or taken?

So, when you consider all these little amounts together, coupled with the regular money used in buying electricity credits from the Discos in your domain, you’d have been providing 24/7 power in your home at a rate ranging between N75/kwh and N90/kWh.

Now, let’s take the lower rate quoted above and calculate as follows:

We assume you’re using a 15.625kva (12.50kw) diesel generator for a four- bedroom wing of duplex with all necessary appliances like 6-8 x A/Cs, 2 x water pumping machines, deep freezers and fridges, cloth washing and drying machine, microwave oven, morning exercise machine like treadmill etc.

You’ll spend nothing less than;

24hrs/day x 12.50kw x N75.00/kwh x 30 days = N675,000.00 per month.

In case you doubt the above, just wonder the diesel consumption alone if you’re running a 12.50kw (15.625kva) generator on a continuous basis of (24/7) per month, without Disco utility power supply.

The generator will consume about 2.9 litres of diesel every one hour, this implies, it will take 24 hours x 2.9 litres to run the generator per day, which equates to 69.6litres per day.

In 30 days therefore, we’ll require 2,088 litres (i.e. 69.6 x 30 days = 2,088) of diesel. Diesel cost in naira per month is therefore, 2,088 x N225.00/litre = N469,800.00/month.

This amount doesn’t include servicing and maintenance of generators at every 250 hours, neither does it include amortisation cost of purchasing the generating equipment.

Can you imagine spending this amount on a monthly basis only, to buy diesel to provide power on a 24/7 basis?

Unimaginable, you’d say? Unfortunately, we don’t ever sit down to analyse the above budget simply because we just dip hands into our pockets to buy and pay for these stated products and services when the need arises.

Have you also sat down to consider the environmental (exhaust and noise pollution) effects on society at large that we’ve learned to live with as normal?

The time to wake up to realities in our society is now; if power can be available in other climes, it surely can be available in Nigeria and on a 24/7 basis.

All that is needed is determination to make it work. Our problem isn’t the diesel generator vendor cartel, neither is it the petroleum products (diesel) importers association selling diesel as Nigerians do claim.

All of these people equally want 24/7 power at very reasonable cost. Let’s get our authorities to be serious and committed to this worthy cause just as we did for GSM during the Obasanjo era and see if 24/7 power won’t be realised.

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