The Minister of Power Works and Housing, Raji Babatunde Fashola Monday broke a good news to the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) that the Federal Government has received $64,630,055 (N19,712,166,775) electricity bill payment from Niger Republic and Benin Republic.
According to him, the Nigeria Electricity Bulk Trading Company (NBET) is expected to work out the modalities before onward distribution to the DisCos.
He spoke at the 21st Monthly Power Sector Ministerial /Stakeholders meeting at the Asaba, Delta State that Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC hosted.
The minister had earlier commissioned the 215MVA Asaba sub-station transformer, which, he said, will reduce incidence of load shedding in the area.
But speaking in the meeting, Fashola said that: “I have some good news for you as well. Some money has come in form the power we sell to Benin Republic and Niger Republic. People wonder why this is so. They are a product of treaties and agreements.
“They also help our own economy. So we have a total of $64,630,055 that has been recovered. So, NBET will work out the modality for distribution. And hopefully by next month, you too, should be able to report that you have received an alert.”
The minister also announced that the Federal Executive Council had on approved to resolve a meter contract dispute that it entered with a contractor since 2003, but the government’s approval last Thursday resulted in a court settle which implies that the contractor can now have N37billion plus the interest that accrued over the time for provision of meters to the DisCos.
Fashola urged the interested DisCos to liaise with the ministry and contractor for supply of meters to their customers, adding that the deal is strictly between the contractor and the power firm while the ministry is only to make the facilitation with the meter supplier.
He however urged the parties to note that the agreements will reach on meter supply will be subject to the regulation that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is about to present.
His words: “But on a progressive note, I am also happy to report that the approval by the Federal Executive Council to resolve a meter contract dispute entered into since 2003, has now culminated in a court settlement that was concluded on Thursday, the 9th of November.
“What that means is that that contractor will now have N37billion plus the accrued interest of the money to make meters available to customers of DisCos. They have to work with the DisCos, so, DisCos who are interested in taking this over should contact the ministry, we will make the facilitation formally with the meters supplier. “We expect this to be bilateral contract between you and them. We don’t want to get involved. We are just going to create a link and a handshake. Some of you are presumably already talking to them to get ready because you know them.
“The agreement you will reach with them will be subject to the regulations that is coming from NERC. So those who are concerned about meters as we promised something is being done and we are moving closer to implementation.”
He revealed to the stakeholders that the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has completed the guidelines for the operation of the Rural Electrification Fund.
The minister explained that the fund is to provide partial capital payment (subsidy) rural electricity operators.
The minister added that “what the fund seeks to do is to provide a partial capital payment by way of subsidy for technical assistance to eligible private rural power development operators and also to end use for communities for options as hybrid solar and to generally scale up rural access to electricity.”
He said the fund is to facilitate investment in hybrid mini-grid, solar system and to generally scale up rural access to electricity.
The minister noted that those that fund will serve are the unserved rural communities.
The fund, according to him, will provide a minimum of $10,000 and maximum amount of $300,000 which 75% of the project cost.
He said the REA will publish the guidelines and eligibility criterial in the national newspapers.
Fashola said that the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) has been lucky this year benefiting from availability of water from the hydro and experiencing peace in the Niger Delta for adequate gas supply.
He promised that even as the rain is receding, there is sufficient gas available for firing the turbines for adequate power supply for the rest of the year.
Speaking, the Managing Director, Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), Mrs. Funke Osibudo had said that there has been a response of the Federal Government to the theft and vandalism of electricity installation through the Inspector General of Police who has established a special anti-vandal response force in the area of operation.
She also announced that the company was making progress in the management of load and outage management.
The Chief Executive Officer said that the BEDC has improved its bill collection method with the introduction of the billing calculator.