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ELECTRICITY BILL: No gas to run power plants in Nigeria –NDPHC boss

Managing Director, Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), Mr. Chiedu Ugboh, Wednesday, disclosed that the nation’s integrated power plants (IPP) do not have gas to operate. Ugboh, who made this disclosure at an investigative hearing organised by the joint House of Representatives Committee on Power, Privatisation and Commercialisation, said that despite the company’s capacity to generate more than 5000 megawatts of electricity, it generates just 700 megawatts for sale due to lack of capacity by the distribution companies to absorb the available power. He said even the 700 megawatts was irregular, wears out the machines, making them to consume more fuel.

He explained that the major constraints faced by the company was distribution capacity and the non availability of gas. “We have been to many places to look for gas, even in Geregu, we don’t have a single molecule of gas. Papalanto, the same thing. There’s no gas anywhere to run these plants which is a huge constraint,” Ugboh told lawmakers.

The NDPHC , Ugboh said, has 10 power plants with a generation capacity of over 5000 megawatts. He explained that in addition to power generation, NIPP also intervenes in transmission projects and has 41 of such projects “We added 6460MVA and 2686 kilometers of high tension KV lines for the Transmission Company of Nigeria. TCN is using these assets now, but the legal transfer is yet be done to get the TCN to pay for them.

“All states of the federation are beneficiaries of our distribution intervention. About 374 distribution projects such as injection substations, over 4000 11kva lines, which once finished, will be transferred to the distribution companies for use following the legal transfer is completed. “We have deployed 20,000 units of solar home system to homes in communities that hitherto never knew what electricity looked like,” he said.

Apparently not satisfied with his presentation, the joint committee has summoned the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Mr. Alex Okoh, to appear before it to also explain the rationale behind the planned privatisation of NIPP power plants under the Niger Delta Power Holding Company. The co-Chairman and Chairman, Committee on Power, Hon. Magaji Da’u Aliyu (APC, Jigawa) ruled that the DG BPE should cause appearance to personally explain the role played by the Bureau in the planned privatisation of NIPP plants.

The committee dismissed Mr. Yunana Jack Bello, who came to represent the DG of BPE, Mr. Alex Okoh, for the inability to provide all the documents requested by the committee. Da’u Aliyu in an opening remarks said that the House mandated the joint committee to engage with stakeholders on the move to sell the power plants and to report back with recommendations.

The lawmaker further stated that the power sector reform programme was on course and the privatisation could either make or mar it as BPE had commenced the process of the plants sale. Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, while declaring the investigation open, said the policies, systems, commercial and governing interests around generation, storage, transmission , and distribution of electricity to power homes and industries were critical components of the national economy. “Without an effectively functioning power sector, we will never be able to build the industries, power innovation and create enough jobs to cater to the large and rapidly expanding number of young people in our country. “Despite this history of failure, and of resources expended without result, we do not have the option of putting our hands up and walking away,” he said.

Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwuo, noted that the only option left is to try to get it right, to correct the mistakes of history and make the future better for all Nigerians. “The Federal Government of Nigeria has proposed to sell five power plants under the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) to raise liquidity to bridge the funding gaps in the power sector, while at the same time bringing in private investors who have the expertise, the resources, and the expressed desire to make sure these plants operate optimally.

“Our purpose in the House of Representatives through this investigative hearing, and other interactions with stakeholders is first to review the policy process that led to this decision to understand the presumptions and expectations that have motivated this policy decision,” he said.

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