Incessant National Grid Collapse: Reps commence investigation to unravel controversies

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…Lament over 100 national grid collapses since 2013

…Slams TCN, alleges no framework to forestall re-occurrences

By Moses Adeniyi

Following instabilities of the national grid, the House of Representatives has resolved to embark on an investigation to unravel the hidden facts behind the incessant collapse of the nation’s power grid and the failure of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to address the trend.

Decrying the negative impact of the inconsistencies on the economy, the green chamber at the plenary on Tuesday, mandated its Committee on Power to conduct an investigation to unravel “the root causes of incessant national grid collapse in the country viz-a-viz TCN’s capacity to address the ugly trend.”

The lawmakers lamenting that since 2013 when the privatisation exercise took place in the power sector, the Country has witnessed over a 100 national grid collapses, expressed worries over the predicament of the economy amidst such inconsistencies.

They considered as incomprehensible how all the key power plants in the Country, including Egbin, Utorogu, Chevron Oredo, Oben gas-fired power plants, Ughelli and Chevron Escravos power plants, could all shut down at once, thereby calling for investigation.

The investigation, according to the House, was “in order to forestall future occurrences and protect our already fragile socio-economic environment.”

The development was based on the unanimous adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by a member, Sani Bala (APC, Kano), titled ‘Urgent Need to Investigate the Recurring National Grid Collapse with a View to Addressing the Multiple and Dire Consequences Associated with Power Outages in the Country Occasioned by these Collapses.’

In his motion, Bala who noted that the national grid collapses occur when there are system disturbances along the transmission lines connecting a number of generating stations, lamented that “the House is concerned that since 2013 when the privatisation exercise took place in the power sector, the country has witnessed over a hundred national grid collapses; a challenge which experts and operators said would linger for a long time if not addressed.”

“The House is further concerned that only this year, the national grid has collapsed seven times – more than the three times recorded last year, thereby, causing national power outages with enormous socio-economic implications.

“The House is equally concerned that the latest in the series of power failures has been adjudged among the worst the country has witnessed in recent times, which in turn indicates that there is no framework or spinning reserve meant to forestall such occurrences.

“The House is worried that it is incomprehensible that all the key power plants in the country, including Egbin, Utorogu, Chevron Oredo, Oben gas-fired power plants, Ughelli and Chevron Escravos power plants could all shut down at once.

“The House is also worried that the issue of system collapse may not be unconnected with the Transmission Company of Nigeria’s lack of wheeling capacity, inadequate transmission lines and spinning reserves as well as refusal to fast-track construction of digital control centres instead of the company’s current analogue system.”

The lawmaker noted that available statistics from research show that if the power generated is adequately wheeled and transmitted for distribution to consumers, there will be a 30 per cent reduction in the cost of generating power, thus leading to a corresponding reduction in the prices of utilities in the electricity supply industry.

Recall that the national grid again collapsed on Monday 26th, September,  leaving the Country in total blackout, a development that once again attracted reactions from business stakeholders.

The last incidence of system failure of the grid, according to record, made it the eighth time in 2022, leaving  manufacturers with unsavoury experiences.

In a notice on the collapse, the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, Plc (EEDC) had said it “wishes to inform her esteemed customers of a system collapse which occurred  at 10:51am today (Monday), 26th September,2022. This has resulted to the loss of supply currently being experienced across the network.

“Due to this development, all our interface TCN stations are out of supply, and we are unable to provide service to our customers in Abia, Anambra,  Ebonyi,  Enugu and Imo States.

“We are on standby awaiting detailed information of the collapse and restoration of supply from the National Control Centre (NCC), Osogbo.”

Also, the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) had announced the incident, on its Twitter handle saying:  “Kindly note that due to a technical fault from TCN’s 2T1 80MVA Power transformer at Jebba, customers in the following communities under Sabo/ Nasarawa & Kainji Road 11kV feeders: Sabo, Nasarawa, Kainji Lake National Park, New Bussa, School of Wild Life Management, Popo, Labararu, Mokwa Community and environs are experiencing power outage

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience,” it said.

Stakeholders in some quarters have revealed that the reason the national grid continue to collapse is because the operators have refused to allow the system to run based on integrity.

It is believed that as a result of lack of automated platform, it is difficult to monitor the hidden facts of the system which allows people get away without being punished.

Stakeholders have submitted there is need to develop mechanism to ensure a structured power market with proper framework to checkmate the pranks operators play along the lines of the value chain.

The incessant grid failure has left business stakeholders lamenting.

The Director General of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Sola Obadimu had told Nigerian NewsDirect that “when a public utility fails, no industry can be happy about it.”

According to him, “Anything that adds to the cost of doing business cannot be attractive to business because when the grid collapses, it results to alternative use of energy which will cost more.

“So, when public infrastructure is unreliable, cost of doing business goes up.

“We can’t go on like this, because there’s no nation that can truly industrialise without stable infrastructure. Not just necessarily power, roads and public water supply must be reliable. Industries should not be sinking boreholes,” he said.

“On the power generation and distribution that we keep talking about over the years which is about 4000 Megawatts (MW), if Nigeria is truly industrialised, we should not be generating anything less than 100,000MW.

“Why would South Africa be generating electricity capacity of about 58,095MW with a total population of 57.78 million and Nigeria with 200 million people is still battling with 4000MW for the past 20 years?

“There’s no way we can be industrialised. And even still, the 4000MW is not reliable, fluctuating between 2000MW to 3000MW. The 4000MW is still not effectively distributed.

“We are only generating and supplying power for domestic use only instead of for industrialisation purpose,” Obadimu decried.

Reacting to the development, an Energy and Agroconsultant expert, Eleojo Joseph, in a chat with Nigerian NewsDirect said the national grid should be dismantled and discontinued.

The expert rather advocated for regional and sub-national grid as replacement for national grid.

According to Eleojo,  “The collapse of the national grid (what I have consistently called ‘Greed’) is a very shameful thing for a country like Nigeria.

“We are doing the same thing expecting a different result after failing in the task a million times. It is utter madness if we think its going to change.

“In the first place, we don’t need national grid. Electricity should be localised; small and mini grids should be encouraged to come on board quickly.

“Imagine 100 companies generating 1MW each across the country from hydro, solar, wind and even biomass and biogas, we will get 100MWs. Is that a difficult thing to achieve? But here we are because of corruption and laziness of a section talking about national grid; that is a major source of swindle on the economy and cannot deliver.

“National grid in the first instance is to aid in transporting electricity from point A to B. Why are we transporting meagre electricity around the whole place? Let each state or neighbouring States generate their electricity.

“Like I have said many times,  the Federal Government of Nigeria does not know the importance of electricity and some top Government officials are bias towards a section, hence their insistence on national grid.  It has to stop whether we like it or not.

“The impact on the economy is catastrophic. Prices of products and services will continue to rise astronomically due to the high cost of diesel. The poor man will continue to suffer more because of the negative impact it will have on Agriculture produce and products.

“Going forward, national grid should be dismantled and discontinued immediately and made a regional grid or  sub-regional grid within a State,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of Sage Consulting & Communications, Mr. Oyebode Fadipe noted that with the current structure of TCN, it is impossible to avert grip collapse.

“It is wishful thinking to expect that there won’t be any grid system outage again after the last one that we suffered. Is the reason for this collapse the same as the reason for the last outage? What lessons did we learn in the last one? Did we put the lessons to use?” he queried.