From Desmond Mgboh, Kano
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), yesterday in Kano said the Federal Government is committed to democratising access to power generation. He also disclosed that Nigeria’s power generation capacity as at August 10 stood at 6683 megawatts.
Speaking at the 18th Power Sector and Stakeholders Meeting in the state, Fashola said the nation’s available transmission capacity had peaked to 6700 megawatts.
The minister, however, regretted that the power generated could not be wholly absorbed by the DISCOs due to their aged equipment and lack of resources.
He explained that the new challenge was to find ways to build and expand the distribution services of the DISCOs to meet the capacity of power generated.
He said: “The Grid Regulations would regulate people who are not served by Discos at all or those who are poorly served because their equipment is not working to get access to power if they are generating anything from 100 kilowatts to one megawatts.
“If it is less than 100 kilowatts, you don’t even need a permit to generate power, but just register with NEC, so they know you are generating your power. If it is over 100 kilowatts but less than megawatts; then you need a permit,” he added.
The minister said “it is expected that many more people would begin to build their own private power and some of the DISCOs can even buy power from those small power producers.”
He said this was consistent with the privatization policy that was contemplated by the Electric Power Sector Reform Act and explained that within an existing DISCO, a new service provider can be licensed.
He also said the new policy on eligible customers would open the sector power, adding that institutions such “state governments hotels, large estates and residential and industrial customers who consume a certain amount of power can apply to NEC to be considered as eligible customer to build their own distribution asset.”
“Where there are gaps, communities and clusters, state governments can now apply and say yes, we would build the distribution facilities and pay some charges to the DISCOs so we can use part of their networks because we have power,” said Fashola.
He added that some of the GENCOs were already applying because they were the ones who were losing, “given that they have more powers than the DISCOs can take and they are saying we should allow them to invest in distribution assets which the law did not prohibits”.
While reiterating the Federal Government’s commitment to the democratization of access to power, he added that NEC would issue regulations to govern the operation of metering business in Nigeria by people who were not DISCOS;
“Though the DISCOs have the responsibility to provide meters to their clients because they use the meters to collect money, the law did not create a meter business monopoly for DISCOs” he stated.