Idris Muhammad, the Team Leader, Media and Community Relations, Kaduna Electric recently sat down with some newsmen in Kaduna where he discussed the power supply situation in the country, billing complaints, meters deployment programme of the company and other sundry issues. GODWIN EKOSIN was there for Gobroadsheet. Excerpts :
Can you explain the cause of the epileptic power supply situation currently being experienced?
The major cause of the power instability currently being experienced is low generation. The total national generation has dropped from about 4000megawatts to a little above 2000megawatts. So the daily allocation to the Distribution Companies, Kaduna Electric inclusive, has dropped by about half. It is pertinent for us to understand that the electricity value chain is made up of three principal actors; the generation companies, the Transmission Company and the Distribution Companies. The Discos, where we belong, only distribute what is supplied to them.
Have you idea what might have caused the generation shortfall?
Well, from the reports received, there are challenges with the supply of gas to the thermal generation stations due to vandalism of gas pipelines in the Delta region. It is important to note that this source of electricity generation, i.e. gas, account for almost 2/3 of the electricity generated in the country. The situation is further worsened by low water level at the hydro stations. The combination of these challenges makes the national grid very unstable. A report recently released by the Transmission Company of Nigeria showed that the grid recorded about 10 system collapse in the month of January alone. I understand that the spinning reserve that guards against recurring system collapse is no longer available due to low generation.
What was the allocation to Kaduna Electric before the situation degenerated and what is the allocation now?
It fluctuates depending on the total national generation. Before now, it hovers between 280 and 320 megawatts but now it is between 100 and 160 megawatts. Let me take advantage of this opportunity to explain one important fact. Sometime in December 2015, we carried out pressure test across our franchise area and we discovered that we have the capacity to deliver 515megawatts to our customers in Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states. That capacity could not be utilized due to low allocation. That is why we are being meticulous in our management of the meager allocation to ensure that every segment of our customers has supply depending on their needs.
There are complaints that despite so much prolonged outages, customers are being presented with high bills, what can you say?
I believe you are referring to our customers on estimated billing, yes we are presenting bills to our customers despite the unstable power supply, but we are not shortchanging our customers or taking advantage of the situation. The estimated bills are done in full compliance with the NERC estimated billing methodology. In addition, our Company is highly disturbed by the number of customers on estimated billing when we took over, that necessitated our resolve to roll out five hundred thousand meters over a period of five years. We have commenced the mass meter roll-out and the deployment and installations of the meters are currently going on in Kaduna, Kebbi and Sokoto states. These meters are distributed free of charge.
You recently kick started customers enumeration, what is the wisdom behind the exercise?
Yeah, we recently commenced the enumeration of electricity users and even potential users in our franchise area. This is aimed at providing the Company with accurate and reliable data of all electricity users for proper energy planning and other strategic business plans in terms of meter roll-out plan, capital investment plan, network re-enforcement plan etc. The exercise will also help in plugging revenue leakages currently happening. The exercise is of mutual benefits to both the Company and the customers as well. As such, the cooperation of all our customers is highly solicited for the success of the exercise.
Any challenge and or appeal to the public?
Indeed, running an industry like this cannot be without challenge, the major ones are energy theft, meter bypass, illegal connections and reconnections, vandalism and customers’ apathy towards payment of bills. The network is plagued with free riders who are daily subverting our efforts. Our appeal is to our customers; they should consider themselves as stakeholders in the project; they should be alive to their responsibilities and cooperate with the Company. They should pay their bills as at when due, apprehend or report miscreants tampering with power supply installations, be more vigilant especially when unknown persons are seen around power supply facilities. Nigerians are important stakeholders in the industry and we must all be alive to our responsibilities.