Electricity Distribution Companies, Discos, have described as false, most of the statements made last week Monday by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola, about the power sector.
According to them, the comments made by the Minister on metering, power generation and transmission capacities and stranded electricity, among others, were significantly distorted.
Fashola, while briefing journalists on the status of Nigeria’s power sector at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in Abuja last week, identified a lot of lapses on the part of the Discos.
But in a 28-page document released in Abuja on Tuesday the Discos responded directly to about 14 issues raised by the Minister.
They said Fashola’s ministry had consistently promoted policies that had resulted in sector-wide confusion, infringed on the responsibilities of the various sector players.
The 11 Discos’ joint response to the minister, was issued by the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, Sunday Oduntan.
They said, “It is with much regret that we feel compelled to respond to the significantly distorted picture that has been painted of the electricity distribution companies by the minister in his press briefing.
“This is a contradiction of his convenient assertion now that customers with no meters should turn to the Discos. The metering gap, a major concern for our customers and us, unfortunately, has become a politicised issue.
“As a means of tracking and accounting for our revenues, there is no greater interested party in comprehensive metering than the Discos.
“With the farming out of the responsibility of metering to third party vendors under the Meter Asset Provider regulation enacted by NERC , it is our hope that the challenges of estimated billing will be minimised for our customers over time.”
“To continue to prevent the Discos from receiving the allowable revenue needed to run the sector effectively and turn around and accuse them of not investing in the sector is disingenuous.
“This is, principally, the reason the Discos can’t contract directly with the Gencos.
“The minister ’s position is inconsistent with the facts. Indeed, the various interferences in the past four years have simply created a continuous shifting of the goal post.
“We are also left wondering whether such demonising of the Discos is a camouflage for
the absence of the effective policy leadership that is desired for implementing the enabling environment that is necessary for the viability and sustainability of the NESI.
“We recognise that we are on the crux of a political season, in which all manner of advantage is being sought by political contenders and we, however, do not want to be used as the whipping dog to advance other people’s agenda.
“We do not understand the constant references to the increase of generation capacity to 7, 000 MW from 4, 000MW for the period of 2015 to 2018 that has been used as the basis of defining the Discos as incapable of taking on more power – the stranded 2, 000MW.
“A review of NERC’s ‘Daily Energy Watch ’ for January 28, 2015 would indicate a generation availability of 6, 421 MW (divided into peak of 4, 230 MW and constrained energy of 2, 191MW).
“In other words, it is misleading to state that available generation has grown from 4,000MW in 2015, as a measure of progress, given that a volume of generation slightly under 7, 000MW already or previously existed, prior to the beginning of this administration.
“Furthermore, there is no stranded 2, 000MW While there is an available capacity of 7, 000MW, the best that can be generated, at this time, is 5, 000 MW.
“This is because there is insufficient gas to power the thermal plants due to gas line limitations (for instance, the non -completion of the Oben pipeline) and the absence of a commercial framework that would encourage gas exploration. Generation that is constrained by gas amounts to an average 1, 500MW daily.”
The Discos further, faulted claims that the Transmission Company of Nigeria currently had capacity to wheel over 5, 000MW, stressing that in spite of the TCN’s tested wheeling capacity of 5, 500 MW, with the two historical generation peaks of 5, 074 MW recorded on February 2, 2016, and 5, 222 MW on December 18, 2017, only 4, 577MW and 4, 265 MW were wheeled or transmitted, respectively.
“In simple terms , the TCN has not wheeled energy in excess of 4 , 265 MW ever,” the firms added.
On the assertion by the government on the reconciliation of some of the electricity debts that it owes, the Discos described this as troubling.
They said their position was in the light of the fact that the government continued to owe them for energy that it consumes, adding that the debt had continued to grow, “contributing to a market shortfall that is estimated to be in excess of N 1.3 tn on the Discos ’ books.”
They also said that they had no clarity on the N37 bn government metering initiative that the minister announced some months ago.