The Minister of Power Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola Monday revealed that he received reports on plans emanating from some secret meetings of some electricity Generation Companies (GenCos) to disrupt power supply because of political gains.
His words: “Let me say it very clearly to some of these people that I get reports on some of the clandestine meetings they hold with the view to disrupt power supply for political capital.”
He dropped the hint that the power firms have dragged the federal government to court over its regulation, stressing that the suit coming at the time that there is increase in power supply is an indication of the intention of the plaintiff to blackmail the government and hold the citizenry hostage.
He wondered “whether the period when this sector is now making progress does not suggest an intention to blackmail government and to hold the citizens hostage?”
The former Lagos state government, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria vowed to defend government’s position in the law court, where he has lived all his life.
He made the disclosure at the 25th Monthly Power Sector meeting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital.
The power firms had sued the Federal Government for discriminatory treatment against them and the gas suppliers. They claimed that the government’s was scheming to give Azura Power West Africa Limited and Accugas Limited to disadvantage of the entire power sector.
The representatives of the GenCos in the suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, are Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited, Transcorp Power Limited, Egbin Power Plc, and Northsouth Power Limited.
Fashola however noted that only the power firms tabled their complaints to the ministry and dragged the government to the court only a week after that was not sufficient for the government to look into their grievances and react.
He urged them to be fair in good conscience to the court of law and court of public opinion about the rival firms that they complained of. The minister submitted that the other new company has a partial risk guarantee in its contract which the plaintiffs do not process.
Fashola tasked the plaintiff to be ready to tell the citizens how they felt first when others groups went to court to stop the implementation of tariffs approved by NERC.
He said “I was their supporter then asking Nigerians to bear with the tariff. You must explain to the court of public opinion whether they went to court before this government approved for them the N701billion payment assurance guarantee which enables to to receive payment on their monthly power bills.
“When they are in that court, they must also tell the court that they are indebted to gas companies and to their banks because they were receiving less than 50% of their bills. And in doing so, they must tell the court that they now receive 80% of their bills from less than 50% because the Buhari’s government intervened with the assurance guarantee.
“They must also tell the court when they get there or while they are there that unlike before when they were paid in Naira, from money that was received from international customers, we sell power to Niger Republic, Chad, Niger and Togo, under an international arrangement. They must tell the court that they are now receiving payments in dollars instead of in the Naira, which used to be the case.
“They must also tell the court when they get their and also tell the court of public opinion that that there is a new GenCos getting paid 100% while they are getting 80%. And they must explain to the court that the reason is that that new GenCos has a partial risk guarantee in its contract and they do not. They was the contract they signed.”
But the unsaid in and the Genesis of the veneer of hatred in the sector was the introduction of the mini-grid regulation that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission presented to the ministry last year making legal ways for competitive participation in power generation instead of the monopoly -like system that held the sector down for years.
Fashola recalled that the of privatization of the sector was not meant to displace the hold monopoly of government with a new monopoly of private businessmen.
He added that there was already progress emanating from the implementation of the regulation p, adding that “So if those people bother to look around them and they look at roof tops across Nigeria, you will see increased number of solar panel.
“And the Nigerian Mini Grid Regulation we have issued encouraged this to happen more and more and it will not stop. So for those who want to produce solar one megawatt and below we now have a regulation that allows.”
Fashola presented the Meter Asset Provider 2018 Regulation to the State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, making Akwa Ibom the first state to receive a copy of the regulation of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
He recalled that the government pursued an out of court judgement in a case that lasted from 2013 to 2017 to get N39billion from a liability of N119billion.
He said that negotiations were still ongoing for fundings for rural electrification, mini-grid and DisCos distribution expansion financing that government hopes to complete before the end of the year.
According to him, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has continued its wheeling capacity, upgrade of its substations in partnership with the Niger Delta Power Holding Company.
He reported to the stakeholders at the meeting that the Calabar substation has been completed and ready to be energized: Uyo substation is already completed and ready to be energized in a matter of days. He said that substations in Karu, Nassarawa, Abeokuta among others have been completed and now in service.
Fashola said it was no longer news that the sector has reached a 7,000mw generation capacity and now has 5000mw distribution capacity.
He broke the news that in the last month the ministry met with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, DiscOs and GenCos and TCN on how to implement the eligible customer policy and increase connectivity to the 2,000mw now available.
He said that the meeting was productive and “report reaching me is that is what is outstanding is agreement on the tariff that will be paid on the eligible customer.”
Speaking the NERC commissioner, Dafe Agenife, who presented the Meter Asset Provider 2018 Regulation to the minister, said that issues of availability of metering and estimated billings were recurring where the commission went to.
He said that the commission had consultations with different stakeholders, agency and consumers on the regulation.
He submitted that the findings was that NERC could not leave the task to the DisCos alone as other investors must come on stream, hence the Meter Asset Provider Regulation.
The commissioner Before you today is the NERC Meter Asset Provider 2018,” adding that four years after privatization customers are still complaining which necessitated the regulation to have independent people approved by NERC and contracted by the DisCos to bridge the metering gap.
In bridging the gap, he said, customers will now have the option of self-financing, obtains meters from the asset providers to pay the metering service charge for a period of 10 years.
The meter asset providers will also ensure that the meters are maintained 48hours should anything goes wrong with the meters, he added.
According to him, it is estimated to produce an investment of over N200billion in the next three years in the industry.
The regulation, he said would create jobs owing to its 30% local content initiative.