Continued instability of Nigeria’s national electricity grid has forced eight power generation companies (Gencos) of National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) to cut down their average expected daily power production levels from 4,694 megawatts (MW) to a mere 493 MW, an operations status report obtained yesterday has disclosed.
The report coincided with a disclosure by Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) that within the first quarter of 2019 (Q1), the number of available power generation units of Gencos operating in Nigeria dropped from 71 that it was in the last quarter of 2018 (Q4) to 62.
NERC also explained in its Q1 2019 report of activities in the power sector that the national grid has continued to experience declines in its stability, adding that in the first quarter of the year, it recorded significant setback which included up to five incidences of total collapse of the grid.
NIPP production level reports between August and early September reviewed showed that the eight affected plants were forced to generate an average of 493MW daily as against their available generation capacities because the national grid would reportedly be unable to take them.
It indicated that the plants were frequently asked to cut their power production levels by National Control Centre (NCC) to enable it stabilise the grid.
This, the report noted, were losses to Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHC) in terms of payment for gas supply to the plants notwithstanding their evacuation statuses.
The affected plants were the 634.5MW capacity Calabar plant; 507.6MW Benin plant; 253.8 Gbarain plant; 506.1MW Geregu plant; 450MW Ogorode plant; and 754MW Olorunsogo plant.
Others included: the 1,076MW Alaoji plant and 512.8MW Omotosho plant. All of the eight plants are operated by the NDPHC, which is jointly owned by the three tiers of government – federal, state and local.
For example, the report showed that on September 2, the eight plants were allowed to generate only 465.2MW, after they previously generated 520.2MW.
On that day, it disclosed that in Alaoji for instance, two units were out on the instructions of NCC, just as another two were equally out at the Omotosho plant for same reasons.
Again, on August 30, the plants were allowed to generate only 535.1 MW from their total capacities with two units at the Calabar plant also out on NCC instructions to scale down.
Further on August 29, they generated only 566 MW, and on August 28, it was 515.9 MW with another two units amongst others down at the Calabar plant due to grid constraints.
Between August 27 and 21, it was 489.4MW; 487.8MW; 410.4MW; 529.7MW; 529.9MW; 444.6MW; and 426.4MW allowed to them respectively.
On August 8, the eight NIPP Gencos were allowed to generate 407.5MW; and on August 7, it was 526.7MW allowed and 495.4MW on August 6, when four generating units in Calabar plant for instance were unavailable due to grid constraint.
Recently, Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC), which is the Gencos umbrella trade union, stated that its members were frequently asked to cut down their generation capacities because of the failures of the national grid to take all the power they can produce.
Similarly, NERC quarterly report explained that while the industry recorded a peak generation of 5,375MW within the period, the available plant generation units however declined to 61 from the daily average of 72 recorded in the last quarter of 2018.
It added that despite the decline in the available generation units, total energy generation rose by 0.8 per cent.
According to NERC, the improvement was marginal because several challenges including grid constraint continued to pose major technical and operational challenges to the industry.
“The commission has continued to work on addressing the Disco-TCN interface bottlenecks with the aim of freeing up the generation capacity constraint by addressing the constraints inhibiting the flow of energy,” said NERC, while adding that “the industry recorded a significant decline in the stability of the grid network during the first quarter of 2019 with five incidences of total system collapse (i.e. total blackout nationwide), unlike in the fourth quarter where two total system collapses were recorded.”