In this report, OKECHUKWU NNODIM writes on the injection capacity and metering gaps in power distribution that must be addressed before Nigerians can enjoy stable electricity
About two weeks ago, the Managing Director, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Usman Mohammed, told our correspondent that citizens across the country should not expect stable electricity until power distributors recapitalise in order to effectively expand their network.
“We cannot have a stable grid unless we have an adequate investment on the distribution side and that is why we have been calling, as transmission (company), that distribution has to be recapitalised. They (distribution companies) need to have a commensurate investment on the network,” Mohammed had stated.
Industry data showed that over $1.5bn was being invested in Nigeria’s power transmission network and unless a commensurate sum is invested in the distribution arm of the sector, the power supply may not improve as expected.
It was gathered that the required investments in distribution, badly needed to distribute the quantum of power transmitted by the TCN, would be used to provide injection substations, and new feeders, among other facilities.
The French Agency for Development, in its most recent study, released a few days ago, confirmed that the TCN had received funds to make it capable of transmitting about 10,000 megawatts of electricity by 2020, but added that power distributors needed to increase their capacities to distribute the quantum of energy.
Findings from the sector showed that facilities needed for the adequate expansion of the country’s distribution network to dispatch about 10,000MW of load demand include the addition of 3,163 Mega Volt Amp injection capacity, 173 pieces of 33 kilovolt new feeders, as well as about $1bn to close the metering gap.
On the individual additional injection capacities required by each of the 11 power distribution companies, data contained in the recent study conducted by the AFD and obtained by our correspondent in Abuja showed that Abuja, Benin, Eko, Enugu and Ibadan Discos needed 152MVA, 460MVA, 195MVA, 307MVA and 382MVA respectively.
For Ikeja, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt and Yola Discos, it was gathered that the additional injection capacities they required to effectively distribute power include 510MVA, 108MVA, 142MVA, 165MVA, 615MVA and 125MVA respectively.
Mohammed had told our correspondent that some of the facilities, if installed by the Discos, would help mitigate the incessant collapse of the country’s power grid.
He said, “We have always said it that there must be a commensurate investment in the distribution network. Electricity is driven by protection. If you take your house as an instance, there is always what you call cut-out or MCB and the intention in installing this equipment is to isolate faults inside the house and prevent such faults from entering the grid.
“If the fault inside the house is not shielded, it will enter the substation. If the substation is not shielded, it will go into the injection substation. From the injection substation, if it is not protected, it will go into the transmission station. And that is what is often happening to our transmission stations.”
But the AFD observed that the reliability of the national grid was traditionally very poor, as it stated that in 2018, the national system suffered 10 total blackouts.
The agency, however, noted that the transmission expansion plan aimed to remove the infrastructure constraints of the grid and reach a transfer/transmission capacity of 10,000MW.
It noted that the transmission company was currently investing approximately $800m until 2020 in improving its transfer capacity and increasing the reliability of the transmission network with the aim of reaching a transfer capacity of more than 10,000MW.
“Additionally, for the period 2021 to 2025, TCN has planned to invest more than $2bn in its network in order to reach transfer capacity up to 13,000MW. Indeed, TCN has secured most of the financing required to reach a 13,000MW transfer capacity by 2025,” the AFD study revealed.
It added, “TCN has detailed its network rehabilitation and expansion programme for the time period up to 2025 and is negotiating with DFIs (development finance institutions) for loans of $1.538bn until 2025.”
On the DFIs support to TCN’s expansion plan, it was gathered that the French Agency for Development, Japan International Cooperation Agency, African Development Bank and the World Bank were supporting the transmission company with $170m, $200m, $200m and $486m respectively.
Others include the Islamic Development Bank and French Agency for Development again, supporting TCN with $210m and $272m respectively.
It was also learnt that the TCN was considering to introduce a new super-grid, which would be a backbone for bulk transmission at either 330, 500 or 750KV.
On what should be the associated interface investment in the distribution network to off take the additional transmission capacities, the French agency said, “According to the TCN/Discos Interface Assessment Project, to close the relevant gaps and ensure the dispatch and distribution of power to support more than 10,000MW of load demand, it (distribution network) needs 173No. 33KV new feeders and also an additional injection capacity of 3,163 MVA.”
The study showed that Discos need to invest massively in Average Technical Commercial and Collection loss reduction plans including the roll-out of meters, increasing network reliability and network expansion, modernisation and new technologies, customer service improvement plans, internal transformation programmes, capacity building and training, etc.
The French agency encouraged power distributors to increase their transformation capacity at injection substations, redistribute loads connecting substations, get feeders and new transformers, and carry out metering and new connections.
It, however, noted that there was inconsistency in the capital expenditure allowance provided for the Discos in the regulations of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, adding that after assessing two projects for metering roll-out in two Discos, it was discovered that the average price for a single phase prepaid meter installed was between N32,700 and N55,000.
Also, the average price for a three phase prepaid meter installed was between N74,600 and N83,600.
“The capital expenditure allowance limits one Disco to install only around 60,000 to 70,000 meters per year and nothing else in network rehabilitation/expansion, reliability and modernisation. Just to close the metering gap in Nigeria, the investment required would be close to $1bn, whereas the CAPEX allowance for all Discos per year is $120m,” the study stated.
It added, “On the other hand, the CAPEX allowed to TCN is over five times more than the one allowed to all Discos together. This is not consistent with having an overall perspective. In the mean time, Discos must draft their performance improvement plans to seize the total investment required by the distribution sector.”
The AFD observed that it looked as if there was a big misalignment among stakeholders in the Nigeria electricity supply industry.
It noted that the power demand in Nigeria surpassed by multiple times the available capacity at generation and the transfer capacities at the transmission and distribution networks.
“There is a need to have an integrated master plan that completes a holistic and integrated expansion plan for all the stakeholders including power generation companies, TCN and Discos,” it stated.