Ikeja Electric deploys technology to curb downtime

Nigeria’s electricity distribution companies under the aegis of the Association of Electricity Distribution Companies (ANED) have said the major problem in the sector is the regulator, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), who are partial, unfair and incompetent but the regulator says the group doesn’t worth a response.

This highlights the depth of the friction that exists in the sector, a contributory factor to why Nigeria’s epileptic power situation has defied all efforts at remedy: parties abandoning the real issue to squabble over minutia.

“The major problem in Nigeria’s power sector is a regulator that is partial, unfair and incompetent and until we get it right nothing will move forward,” Sunday Oduntan, executive secretary of ANED said on a morning programme on Television Continental, a Lagos-based broadcast station.

Oduntan, during the interview alluded to the brewing battle over encroachment of franchise area belonging to Enugu DisCo a private company to support the claim of NERC’s partiality.

BusinessDay sought the response of NERC and Usman Abba Arabi, its spokesperson said, “We don’t respond to ANED. They are not our licensees. NERC does not recognize them. So we will not join issues with them.”

Pressed further that the claims of an association that speaks for its licensees when valid should warrant more than just a cavalier response, Arabi insisted that the group does not matter as they are not the ones they are regulating.

On June 13, NERC granted a 9.5megawatts embedded electricity generation licence to Ariaria Market Independent Power Plant Limited an Independent Electricity Distribution Licence to distribute power within Ariaria Market, in a franchise area already allocated to Enugu DisCo citing ‘public interest’.

In their reaction, Enugu DisCo through its spokesman Emeka Eze said, “This act is in clear contravention of the regulatory provision that no company can set up a distribution network within a franchise area of a distribution company where there is already an existing and active distribution facility in the area.”

The tussle adds to the long list of court cases pending in various courts around the country. There are court cases over plans by the Federal Government to recapitalise the DisCos, effect a change in their board structure and GenCos are in court over payments to Azura Power from the N701billion power assurance fund which they say is at their own expense.

However, these kinds of tussles mask the real issues plaguing the sector including some DisCos teetering towards bankruptcy, an electricity market that is liquid, a failing transmission grid that cannot even move full capacity generation, insecurity of feedstock for power plants, huge debts to gas producers and a regulator perceived as having too cosy a relationship with some of those it is regulating, hence lacking the ability to enforce market rules.

However, for many Nigerians, black outs have become a regular feature. It is even worse in rural areas where they go entire months without a glimpse of power.