Twenty-two hours after it collapsed, the National Electricity Transmission Grid recovered to 2,324.90 Megawatts as Nigeria's power supply challenges continued. Checks on data provided by the National System Operator, a unit in the Transmission Company of Nigeria, showed that 16 power plants were back on the grid as at 2.00 pm, yesterday. A breakdown showed that Azura-Edo and Geregu were the biggest generators with 411MW and 398MW respectively.
Other plants on the grid were Alaoji plant, 108.90MW, Kainji Hydro 50MW, Paras Energy 44.90MW, Delta 377MW, Egbin 71MW, Geregu NIPP 131MW, Ibom Power 72.40MW, Jebba Hydro 88MW, Olorunsogo NIPP 106.70MW, Omoku 47.10MW. Others were Omotosho 153.80MW, Omotosho NIPP 99.10MW, Sapele 55MW and Sapele NIPP 85MW. No official reason has been given by the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, for the collapse which was reported to have occurred at 6.49pm on Sunday.
The Minister of Power, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, had last week attributed the low electricity supply across the country to gas supply challenges. The Minister in a statement by his media aide, Malam Isa Sanusi, explained that the "dip in electricity generation is as a result of the partial shutdown of the Oben gas plant to address the repair of critical gas processing equipment". The government noted that the "incident unfortunately occurred at a time when other power plants on other gas sources are undergoing planned maintenance and capacity testing," adding: "We wish to notify the public that Seplat Energy Plc has mobilised equipment, material and personnel to site with a view to expediting the restoration of normal gas supply to the affected power plants. We have been assured that the repair work will be concluded this weekend and normalcy will be restored. While pleading with electricity consumers with the current state of supply, we wish to assure the general public that efforts are being made for a sustained improvement of supply across the country".
The Chief Executive Officer, Cabtree Limited, Mr. Bode Sowunmi, said in an interview with Energy Vanguard, that the frequent system collapse has affected the nation's economy negatively. He attributed it to irregular maintenance, stressing that, "System is not well maintained. What we need is not something that can be done urgently. There is an assumption that there is a quick fix to everything. It is not. The system did not start collapsing overnight. TCN is 100 per cent government. This is a Federal Government problem."
Commenting on the development, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, CPPE, Muda Yusuf, called for the urgent decentralisation of the country's national grid as well as incentivising other sources of energy in the country. According to him, "The impact of this crisis is very obvious and you know right now energy cost has gotten to a level that is now almost unbearable. Both industry players and households are suffering. When you have this kind of collapse the alternative is to self generate and now with the cost of diesel, gas, Nigerians are at longer heads.
"We are creating problems and agony for investors in this economy, because already they have enough troubles such as Forex, logistics, credit and insecurity. If ontop of this we are faced with this energy crisis, this is the worst time to experience system collapse because its simply unbearable. More businesses have closed down because there was no way they could just continue buying diesel as high as it is now. Most service centres like some hotels have shuts business because it doesn't add up. The implications are very severe in terms of ability to continue to sustain the business, erosion of the profit and ability to create employment or sustain the already existing employees. This is even more critical for businesses that are energy intensive, especially those in production, IT, Telcoms and the banks. Its a major issue for the economy and the welfare of Nigerians.
On way out, he noted that "We need a government intervention and a long term interventions as well. For the short term, what is needed to address should be addressed ranging from insecurities, inadequate supply of gas, etc. Government should intervene and solve these crises."
Also reacting, Executive Secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies, APGC, Mrs. Joy Ogaji, who attributed the frequent collapse to poor management, had said: "The GENCOs are supposed to start and stop at most 20 times a year but in Nigeria, the GENCOs start and stop 365 days every year and this wear and tear are affecting the plants which causes maintenance issues at a time when they should be optimal. Last year GENCOs engaged an expert to investigate these issues, it was found that the ramp down and ramp up has affected the turbines. For instance, Siemens has told Geregu to shut down the machines because if the start-stop continues it will destroy the three turbines until after maintenance. General Electric has also notified Calabar on similar issue and awaiting maintenance."
However, an industry report obtained by Energy Vanguard titled - Spinning Reserve to do or not to do? NESI Conundrum: Save our Machines - stated: "Outages/grid collapses occur when there system disturbances along the transmission line and the ready solution, which is calling up of 'spinning reserve' is not readily available and this is because there few or no incentivized providers of this service. International best practice recommends that 10 percent of the total generating capacity should be allowed for spinning reserve. Thus, the Nigerian grid requires up to 600MW.
"The Instability in the grid over the years has led to several forced outages of the power system and the consequent impact on the economic growth of the country due to unreliable power network. The grid disturbances primarily hinge around variations between generation and demand leading to frequency excursions. Often these frequency excursions are well outside the Grid Code operational limits of 50Hz ± 0.25Hz, and often exceed the 'system stress' limits of ±1.25Hz as shown by the snapshot of Nigerian grid frequency excursions."