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Despite 65% Electricity Bill Subsidy, Blackout Worsens- FG Warns Discos

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Power distributors that reject electricity allocated to them by the Transmission Company of Nigeria shall be dealt with severely going forward, the Federal Government declared on Monday.

It also revealed that in the next three to six months, it would ramp up power generation and supply to between 6,000 and 6,500 megawatts.

The Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, who disclosed this in Abuja before commencing a meeting with heads of agencies under his ministry, also disclosed that the Federal Government was subsidising the electricity bills of consumers nationwide by about 65 per cent.

“I am holding this meeting with all the directors in the Ministry of Power and the CEOs of our agencies in order to address the lingering crisis in the power sector,” Adelabu stated.

According to him, what the country is witnessing currently with respect to power supply is not acceptable, adding that “the situation is getting worse, and in the last two, three weeks the level of power supply to Nigerians has not been good enough.”

Commenting on the performances of power distribution companies, the minister stated that the Discos would be dealt with severely for power load rejection.

He said, “We must address the issues of distribution, and I’ve said before now that the non-performance of Discos in terms of epileptic power supply qualifies as a basis for the revocation of licence.

“Any Disco that is found wanting will be severely dealt with; I’ve had discussions with the chairman of NERC. Their (Discos) actions or inactions directly affect the performance of the sector, and we must take it seriously.

“If we ramp up generation to 6,000MW as planned in three to six months, and ramp up our infrastructure in transmission to get power to the Discos within the next couple of days, if the Discos are not picking this power, it amounts to nothing.

“So the refusal to take up and supply power by the Discos is a qualified basis for the revocation of licence. Therefore the Discos should not frustrate our efforts in generation and transmission.”

The minister said he had discussed with NERC to come up with adequate performance measurement standards for Discos, stressing that laggards should be fished out and sanctioned.

“We should not be toothless bulldogs, barking and barking without biting. We should bite, for by the time we sanction two, three Discos heavily, others will sit up, and it will serve as a deterrent to others that we mean business.

“Their actions and inactions are causing us damage as a country. So they must know that it is no longer business as usual. We should have performance information, for example, last week, a number of the Discos did not pick up the power provided by TCN, throwing a number of communities into darkness,” he stated.

It was earlier observed that despite the widespread blackout and the worsening state of electricity supply in Nigeria, figures on the daily load summary of power distribution companies indicated that the firms failed to distribute about 1,769.91 megawatts of electricity between February 1 and 14, 2024.

The report stated that data from the Transmission Company of Nigeria showed that though some of the power firms received excess electricity load allocation during the period, most of them failed to utilise all the quantum of energy allocated to them by TCN.

Nigeria has 11 power distribution companies and they include Abuja, Benin, Eko, Enugu, Ibadan, Ikeja, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt and Yola Discos.

The report stated that on February 1, 2024, for instance, seven of the power distributors failed to utilise a total of 128.62MW of electricity, as the load rejection by the power firms lingered during the review period.

Adelabu declared that the rejection of electricity would no longer be allowed in the sector, stressing that “they must take up a minimum of 90 to 95 per cent of power supplied to their jurisdiction.”

Power generation

On the issue of power generation, the minister stated that “we’ve discussed the status of the debt in the sector, including the legacy debts to gas companies and the debts to generating companies.”

Adelabu said he was “confident that we are going to have some cash injections in terms of payments, and we are going to also work around the balance by giving out guaranteed debt instruments such as promissory notes to the Gencos and gas companies.”

The minister said he believes that this will ensure that the Gencos go back to production and improve generation output as soon as the government pays that money.

“We will ensure that we agree on payment milestones for these debts, because these outstanding debts to Gencos are also a major problem,” he stated.

Speaking on strategies to further improve power generation and stabilise output, the minister stated that the country’s average power generation and supply of 4,000MW to 4,500MW was no longer acceptable.

“So what we are doing now is to have an agreement to ramp up to a minimum of 6,000MW within the next three to six months. I know that the highest we’ve ever generated was 5,700MW about three years ago, specifically in November 2021.

“And this was also distributed, so if we could achieve 5,700MW at that time, I believe we still have the infrastructure to generate between 6,000MW and 6,500MW once there is stability in the supply of gas,” Adelabu stated.

According to him, once there is gas supply, “we want to ramp up generation to a minimum of 6,000MW; if possible, 6,500MW within the next three to six months. That is our plan.”

The minister also stated that since the Discos could take up 5,700MW about three years ago, they should be able to distribute 6,000MW or 6,500MW in the next three to six months.