Senate Commences Probe Of Gencos, Discos

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..……Report to be ready in four weeks

The Nigerian Senate has mandated its Committee on Power to investigate the activities of power generating and distribution companies with a view to unraveling the cause of unsteady power supply in Nigeria.

The committee would submit its report within four weeks to the Senate for consideration.The decision to probe the power distribution companies (Discos) and their power generation counterparts (Gencos) followed a motion yesterday (Tuesday) at plenary by Senator Chukwuka Utazi.

The lawmaker argued that Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million and an annual growth rate of 2.6%, and yet the seventh most populous nation on earth, cannot explain the exact status of its power industry. According to Utazi, the power generating or installed capacity of Nigeria in relation to its population and Gross Domestic Product cannot place the country to compete favourably in terms of development with other nations. He said the probe would definitely find solutions to the power deficits faced by the country.

Citing Indonesia and Philippines as examples, the lawmaker noted that both countries with a population of 267 million and 107 million, respectively, have installed power capacity of 60,000 megawatts and generating capacity of 42,465 megawatts as well as installed capacity of 20,055 megawatts and generating capacity of 16,271 megawatts.

He however expressed optimism that Nigeria can set a realizable target of generating capacity of 100,000 megawatts in the next ten years, adding that same can be achieved through a mix of energy sources such as natural gas, hydro, coal, wind and renewable energy.

Utazi pointed out that that the various zones in the country are naturally positioned to take advantage of the various energy mix and renewables, particularly solar energy. “The northern part of the country with vast expanse of land can tap into large solar farms while the southern parts of the country with significant reserves of natural gas and cola can generate power from same. Both the north and South have large water bodies that can still be dammed for hydro,” Utazi said.

According to him, Nigeria can improve on its transmission infrastructure by up-scaling its networks from the current 330kv and 132kv to 765kv super grid to enable big power plants to send power through such grid over long distances. He added that beyond generation and transmission, Distribution Companies (DisCos) lack the financial and technical capacities required, thereby resulting in their inability to pay for power which Generation Companies (GenCos) deliver to the grid.

He stressed that the privatization of the power sector in 2013 was not to achieve highest financial bids, rather to get capable companies that can achieve the lowest average technical commercial and collection losses within five years.In her contribution, Senator Oluremi Tinubu said the failure of the sector was largely due to the refusal of leadership to embrace new ideas.  “Government should embrace new ideas that would take Nigeria to the next level,” she said.

Another lawmaker, Senator Jibrin Barau said uninterrupted power supply remains a fundamental requirement needed in a modern economy. The lawmaker, who bemoaned previous policies particularly under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, said the power problems of the country remain the same despite their introduction.

He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to engage all stakeholders in the power sector with a view to coming up with workable solutions to Nigeria’s power crisis.

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