• May clear confusion over Manitoba contract Tuesday
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has begun a move to resolve the crisis in the electricity sector, which was signalled last week with the alleged termination of the Manitoba contract.
However, the President during a media chat on Sunday said that the contract was not revoked.
It was learnt at the weekend that the President plans to fill two critical vacancies in the electricity sector, namely those of the power minister and chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to work with Manitoba.
The confusion in the electricity sector may be cleared today as the President is said to have asked for the files on power sector projects to be on his table this week.
There were earlier speculations that the issue of the minister of power has been resolved with the deployment of former Minister of State, Niger Delta Affairs, Hajiya Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi, as Minister of State. Some observers saw the action as an indication that the President may have decided to hold on to the position of minister of power while Kuchi and the Presidential Task Force on Power (PTFP) would do the ‘field work.’
But reliable sources said at the weekend that the President was looking beyond Kuchi. The President, it was learnt, is still not satisfied with the development at the Ministry of Power and wants a seasoned expert to run the place. “He is seriously shopping for a substantive minister of power to fill the big shoes left behind by Prof. Barth Nnaji,” The Guardian was told.
It is not clear in whose direction the President is looking, but it was established at the weekend that Jonathan may not necessarily be considering ethnicity in the quest to institute a good leadership structure and restore discipline at the Ministry of Power. “Only the best will get the job,” a source said.
The Guardian learnt also that in shopping for a reliable chairman of the TCN board, the President is conscious of instituting a good leadership structure for the firm, which would remain a government entity after the departure of Manitoba.
The nation’s transmission system has severally been identified as one of the biggest woes of the electricity sector. The country has continued to lose some of the megawatts of the electricity it managed to add to its generation accomplishments. The Guardian learnt that the nation’s transmission network in its current state cannot cope with the rate of generation should electricity improve very significantly.
The non-constitution of the Supervisory Board of TCN has been one of the issues plaguing the effective take-off of the Manitoba Hydro International contract. Part of the understanding for the engagement of Manitoba was the formal activation of its contract and the constitution of a supervisory board for TCH. The supervisory board is to interface between government and Manitoba and ensure that the three-year contract is well constituted and that the nation’s transmission system is upgraded and to make it to be able to cope with the post-privatisation era.
The supervisory board of about seven persons is to work alongside the incoming expatriate firm’s management, in this case, Manitoba for now. A tough and firm chairman of TCN board, according to sources, will ensure that the terms of engagement of the expatriate managing firm are well executed.
The TCN is one of the 18 successor firms unbundled from the former Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). But unlike the 17 others slated for either outright privatisation or sale of equity, it was slated for management contract, meaning that it is firmly in government control but managed by a world-class power sector firm.
The TCN was incorporated in November 2005. TCN emerged from the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) as a product of the merger of the transmission and operations sectors on April 1, 2004.
Being one of the 18 unbundled business units under the PHCN, the company was issued a transmission licence on July 1, 2006. TCN’s licensed activities include: Electricity transmission, system operation and electricity trading.
Out of frustration over the state of the transmission network, the Presidency recently gave the TCN marching orders to ensure that government’s target of having 5000mws of electricity by December is not hindered by transmission.
TCN was directed to conclude talks on integrating some of the recently completed National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) plants into the spinning reserve and frequency control programme to shore up the daily reserve especially as the profile of available but undelivered power is rising.
The chairman of the PTFP, Beks Dagogo-Jack, said at the meeting in Abuja that TCN must rise to the occasion and check the frequency of power grid collapses. The meeting dealt extensively with the likely immediate and remote causes of the collapses and identified a few remedy plans with short to long-term delivery times.
Two major causes for the system collapses were identified as generation-side triggers especially during periods of very low power availability and transmission-side triggers with the latter contributing over 60 per cent of the trigger incidents.
The Chief Executive of TCN, Olusola Akinniranye, said: “The second factor is the unreliability of the protection and relay systems which should (if properly serviced) anticipate, isolate and limit the impact of a single system fault from snow-balling into a grid collapse. This combines with the lack of an effective Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system designed to provide grid intelligence and assist with managing the power grid. The absence of SCADA weakens the system’s integrity.
“The third major reason for the recurrent systems collapses is grossly insufficient spinning reserve cum frequency control and system black start capability – integral elements to sustaining power supply. The fourth significant cause of collapses is isolated cases of vandalism at live power facilities. These perpetrators compromise the power lines by bridging targeted segments of the power grid to cause forced outages in order for them to steal installed power facilities quickly before the stolen segment can be traced and restored.”
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