Delta Community In Over 7 Years Blackout For Rejecting Estimated Bills

Blackout-in-Nigeria-OgutaIbusa, a community in Delta State, has accused the Benin Distribution Electricity Company of leaving them in total blackout for over seven years for refusing to accept what they called outrageous estimated bills.

Some residents of the community said they have made concerted efforts to restore power sometime in December last year, but the electricity company turned it down.

The power company has not responded to this allegation and outcry coming days after the the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission asked electricity consumers to reject any estimated billing from distribution companies, saying such action contravenes the laws regulating the sector.

The Acting Chairman of the Commission, Mr Anthony Akah, gave the advice in Abuja when the House Committee on Power made its oversight visit to the commission.

According to him, the regulation clearly states that electricity consumers have rights to reject estimated bills if the distribution companies refused to install pre-paid metres for their customers.

“We also have a regulation that makes it disincentive for the DISCOS not to metre customers. It says clearly that any customer that has no metre has the rights to reject the estimated bills if he feels that the bill does not reflect the quantity of power that was sent to him.

“However, he has to pay for the last month he agreed and immediately write to the DISCO and copy our office for them to come and prove why they gave him estimated bill that does not reflect what he consumed.

“The DISCO under that circumstance cannot disconnect them and cannot give them further bills until the issue is resolved,” he explained.

Mr Akah also listed some efforts made by the commission to regulate the sector.

After he briefed the lawmakers, they drew the attention of the commission to the need to regulate electricity billing system within the confines of existing laws.

Fashola Explains Input Gurara Hydropower Will Make To Nigeria’s Electricity

electricityNigeria’s electricity will receive a boost at the completion of the Gurara Hydropower Plant in Kaduna early next year, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has said.

While inspecting the plant that will add 30 megawatts of electricity to the over 5,000 megawatts that the nation of over 160 million people ration, Mr Fashola said that the addition was in continuation of the drive by the Federal Government to boost power generation.

Addressing reporters at the plant he explained that the additional power from the Gurara Hydropower Plant would boost efforts to stabilise power supply.

Mr Fashola pointed out that the plant would also serve as a source of transporting energy through to Kaduna and Mando substations to connect the Kaduna Power Plant.

He also hailed the Federal Government efforts to increase power generation, saying with wind power being developed in Katsina and the Gurara, Shiroro and Kashimbila hydropower projects, the nation’s energy mix was slowly coming together.

The Minister was at the plant with his team of experts to inspect the level of work done.

They also inspected the Kashimbila Multipurpose Dam project in Taraba State.

The dam when completed would provide electricity and support agricultural ventures in the surrounding communities.

The minister appealed for peace and cooperation from the host community to ensure that the project, which he pointed out would first serve the community, was completed in record time.

Recently, electricity experts advised the Nigerian government to shift focus away from generating power with gas which has seen a setback amidst increasing attacks on oil installations in the southern region by militants.

Several pipelines have been blown up with a militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers claiming responsibility for most of the attacks.

Prior to the exploration of gas for power supply, the nation had depended largely on dams. Poor maintenance and shift of focus away from the dams have also been identified as reasons the nation’s power supply has stopped improving over the years.

NNPC Gas Pipeline In Niger Delta Attacked

Pipeline-vandalismA gas pipeline in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been attacked.

The attack occurred late on Thursday, according to a spokesman for a local community group and a witness.

The pipeline, which connects the Escravos oil terminal to Warri, supplies gas to different parts of the country.

There have been a resurgence in militant attacks in the oil-rich southern region in the last few weeks, with strikes on pipelines and oil facilities.

A group that calls itself the Niger Delta Avengers has claimed responsibility for most of them.

Reuters quoted a spokesman for the Ijaw Youth Council, as saying the attack occurred around the village of Ogbe Ijoh, near Warri.

Local resident, James Dadiowei, said a “loud bang” at the NNPC pipeline had thrown the community into panic on Thursday night.

“The explosion occurred last night on the pipeline belonging to the NNPC,” said Omare.

A spokesman for the NNPC was unable to confirm the attack.

Sabotage Of Oil Installations

It is not clear if the gas pipelines provides gas to any electricity company.

But recent attacks on gas pipelines have been blamed for the nation’s current poor power situation, as the nation of over 160 million people share a capacity that is below 4,000 megawatts.

President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier on Friday in Abuja assured oil companies operating in the Niger Delta that the Federal Government was taking all necessary actions to protect strategic assets in the region from vandals and criminals.

He spoke at a meeting with the Global Director (Upstream) of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, Mr Andrew Brown.

The President told the oil giant that he had directed the Chief of Naval Staff to reorganise and strengthen the military Joint Task Force  in the Niger Delta to deal effectively with the  resurgence of militancy and the sabotage of oil installations.

New Electricity Tariffs: Regulator Insists On Adequate Service Delivery

Tony-AkahThe Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) says in view of the recent hike in electricity tariffs, operators would be held accountable to every aspect of their service agreements.

The Acting Head of the NERC Tony Akah, told reporters on Wednesday that it was the first time the sector would have a realistic tariff that would ensure operators have a fair return on their investment in the sector.

But he also stressed that Nigerians have been empowered to insist on their rights going forward.

“It is fundamentally important right now that since we have balanced the tariff aspect of it, we as regulator are holding the operators, especially the distribution companies, accountable for every bit of their service agreement.

“We have also embarked on massive consumer education and we expect that by doing that, Nigerians will be well informed and well empowered to insist on the right,” he said.

“Right To Say No”

He emphasised that the era of getting Nigerians or communities compelled to buy electric poles, transformers or repair transformers was over and totally not acceptable.

“We are holding the distribution companies accountable,” he reiterated.

The NERC boss also said that the commission had put mechanisms in place to ensure that the distribution companies (DISCOS) meter all Nigerian customers.

“One of the principal mechanisms in this tariff regime is that the DISCOS must meter all Nigerian customers and failure to meter them within the time frame means that Nigerians will not be disconnected and you cannot estimate them.

“It also gives the power to Nigerian customers to reject their power bill if they feel that, as metered customers, there is a crazy bill that is grossly not realistic.

“You have the right to say no I am am not going to pay that bill.

“We have given them the power to pay the last bill that they accepted to pay pending the resolution of the disputed bill,” he told reporters in Abuja.

Mr Akah further stated that there were inbuilt mechanisms that were very robust and strong to ensure that the sector played by the rule.

He warned operators that the commission had ample powers to sanction them, saying that mechanism were in place to monitor them.

“We will do what we need to do going forward,” he stressed.

Diverse reactions had trailed the new electricity tariff, with many consumer complaining that the service they receive and the moment do not measure up with the charges, but the new regime had given them the power to reject bills that do not reflect the power consumed.

Payment Of Electricity Bills Will Sustain Supply – DISCO

Kolawole-AdeshinaAn Electricity Distribution Company (DISCO) in Lagos State has stressed that except consumers pay for energy they consume, it would be extremely difficult to sustain supply of electricity.

Addressing reporters on Monday, the Chief Executive of Egbin Power Plant, Kolawole Adeshina, said it would be difficult for distribution companies to survive if consumers without prepaid meter were asked not to pay their bills.

Checkmate Energy Theft

Mr Adeshina assured consumers of a massive roll out of repaid meter numbering over 300,000, which he said would help the distribution companies (DISCO) checkmate energy theft.

“We have signed a metering contract of 106 million dollars. For a company that has not been paid and you are signing a metering contract, invariably, you expect to be paid.

“You are now saying that if those metres are not in place, which can’t be in place in one day, that payments will not be made. It cannot work and our system will fail,” the Egbin Power Plant Chief Executive stated.

He, however, told reporters that he was against inefficient and estimated billing of electricity consumers, a development that had led to some consumer’s refusal to pay their bills.

“I do not want and I don’t subscribe to people inefficiently being billed.

“No! You should not be billed beyond the power you have consumed because it is equally not right,” he stressed.

FG To Set Up National Council On Power

Power plantThe Federal Government of Nigeria has is planning to establish the National Council on Power to achieve the goal of providing sustainable power supply.

When established, the National Council on Power would assist in formulating useful policies and providing the much needed manpower in the power sector.

Speaking at a meeting in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of State for Power, Mr Mohammed Wakil, urged members of the council to use their expertise to make useful observations to the Federal Government to improve the nation’s power sector.

The Nigerian government had in November 2013 concluded the privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, but the process has not yielded much in the sector, as the total power generation is bellow 6,000 megawatts.

The government had said it would welcome more investments in the sector to boost the power supply, which experts said would create jobs and grow the economy.

Transmission Company Set To Inject $8bn To Boost Electricity

Power plantTransmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) plans to inject $8 billion to upgrade its operations to achieve 20,000 megawatts electricity supply, its Executive Director, Mr Mohammed Shaike said in a statement on Monday.

Mr Shaike’s statement is coming days after the company received members of the Senate Committee on Privatisation, led by its Chairman, Senator Olugbenga Obadara who visited the company’s regional office in Oshogbo in continuation of their oversight visit to privatised enterprises in Osun State.

He told the Senators that in its determination to develop the technical manpower of the company, TCN’s Management Contractors-Manitoba International had trained some of the technical staff abroad to acquire technical and strategic skills.

The Executive Director said that TCN would work jointly with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to achieve the target.

Also at the briefing was the TCN’s General Manager, Mr J. Lawal, who said that the company’s power lines accommodated a maximum voltage of 330kv with its transmission coverage extended to Benin and Niger Republics.

He said that despite the low power generation from the generation companies, plans were on to upgrade the transmission lines to accommodate more voltage to distribute to the distribution companies.

According tom him, some of the challenges the company is facing are poor office accommodation, lack of safety facilities and lack of training for the technical staff.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Olugbenga Obadara, decried the low level of investment in power generation, which he said had resulted in unstable and unreliable power supply across Nigeria.

The Senate also visited the Nigeria Machine Tools (NMT) Limited, where its Managing Director, Mr Norbert Chukumah, gave a brief history of the company which produces spare parts based on specifications.

He said since privatisation in 2007, the company had embarked on massive rehabilitation and upgrade of its facilities to bring it to modern standards.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Olugbenga Obadara urged the company to approach the Capital Market to raise more funds for its operations.