The system collapse that has affected electricity distribution through the national grid in recent times is as a result of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN)’s “poor transmission network protection”, the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), has said.
Since the beginning of this year, the TCN has reported no fewer than nine national grid system collapses affecting the distribution of electricity in different parts of the country.
Apart from January where the incident occurred five times, one collapse was reported in April, and two in May.
The latest was reported last Sunday, June 30. It affected a section of the Benin Substation, Sapele Road in Benin City, Edo State.
A statement by the TCN spokesperson, Ndidi Mbah, said the incident resulted from a fire in the 75MX reactor facility in the area due to high voltage.
Mrs Mbah said the high voltage, which triggered the fire, caused a massive drop of load from the national grid and available supply to the electricity distribution companies.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported that the incident, which left large parts of the country in darkness for several hours, worsened the poor electricity supply situation in the country.
But the umbrella body of the power distribution companies, in a statement by its spokesperson, Sunday Oduntan, blamed the series of collapse on the poor transmission network protection by the TCN.
“The DISCOs remain available to offer their technical assistance to TCN, to ensure that our valued customers do not remain in darkness,” Mr Oduntan said.
He said the failure of the TCN Benin Substation on Sunday was the second of such occurrence in the same city within a year.
ANED said it reported the trend of burnt transmission stations and failed transmission substation incidents in Lagos, Calabar, Abuja, Enugu and Onitsha as at May 8, 2019, due to inadequate transmission protection mechanisms and procedures.
Expressing displeasure over TCN’s practice of arbitrary load dumping on the DISCOs whenever the TCN is having challenges managing energy on its grid, ANED said this has always caused a myriad of commercial and technical problems for its members.
The DISCOs said these deficiencies of TCN were captured in a July 2017 System Adequacy Report published by the Independent System Operator, a section of TCN that oversee the operations of the system.
“A properly protected transmission system will always isolate faults,” ANED said. “But, unfortunately, the resultant effect is that we have experienced the ninth total black out in Nigeria this year, a rate of transmission failure that is in excess of one blackout per month – far beyond any international standard.”
It said over 100 partial and total transmission system collapses have also been recorded since the sector privatisation in 2013.
“This magnitude of system collapses should not be a regular reality of our country,” Mr Oduntan said.
Rather than trading blames for the deplorable situation, the DISCOs advised TCN to focus on realising actual delivery of its acclaimed 8,100 megawatts (MWs) wheeling capacity, as the current figure “is based on nothing more than a computer simulation.”
According to him, the TCN should address its radial transmission network for better power delivery, procure the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) to monitor the grid and trace system collapse faults.
“If we have a functional SCADA system, it will show clearly what happened on the grid. That is why the deployment of SCADA is not an option.
“Nigeria has failed attempts to have a functional SCADA three times. The last one was between 2006 and 2007,” Mr Oduntan said.
He said he was in the Project Management Unit (PMU) of TCN when the World Bank financed it and Nigeria spent about $46 million.
But, he said, the SCADA that was completed had significant deficiencies such that “it cannot see more than 40 per cent of the network”.
On the $4.3 billion investment TCN said the DISCOs need, ANED said the 11 DISCOs are regulated entities and not allowed to invest more than $150 million per year, or $13.6 million per DISCO annually.
Although a recent French Development Agency (AFD) report said the DISCOs need about $181 million funding annually to improve the networks capacity, he said this cannot happen unless such related funding is allowed in the regulatory framework.
The DISCOs said they were optimistic that once their five year Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) are approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the DISCOs could get better regulatory framework that will allow the sector improve.
“We believe that it is only when all Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI)’s stakeholders decide to work together that we will be able to anticipate and solve these unfortunate events,” ANED said.
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