The issue of power generation in Nigeria has been a recurring decimal, despite the various efforts by the past and present administrations to ensure that the problem is resolved. No doubt, epileptic power supply has constituted a clog in the wheel of the socio-economic advancement of the country.
While Ghana, a neighbouring country in the West Coast, celebrated 20 years of uninterrupted power supply a few years ago, our dear country, Nigeria, cannot even boast of one week of uninterrupted power supply. The situation is that bad!
Ironically, a lot of money is earmarked for the power sector annualy, but there is little or nothing to show for it. Many multi-national companies have either closed shop or left for other countries where power supply is constant.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) recently disclosed to newsmen that a total of 820 manufacturing companies folded up between 2000 and 2010. This is, indeed, alarming! The reason for their closure was attributed to unstable power supply. Indeed, the operating environment for business activities in Nigeria is getting tougher on a daily basis.
In Ogun State, the situation was not different. Before the administration of Chief Gbenga Daniel came on board in 2003, the power sector in the state had been in crisis.
Nigerian Tribune learnt that energy allocation to the state from the National Control Centre at Osogbo was insufficient. Only about 50MW to 60MW was daily allocated to the state, instead of the required 350MW.
It was gathered that Ogun State was serviced only by 132KV transmission line and there were six locations for the 132/33/11KV substations namely: Abeokuta , Papalanto, Ota, Ijebu-Ode, Sagamu and Agbara Transmission substations. Power distribution in the state was, however, pivoted in two axes, Abeokuta and Ijebu-Ode.
The 132KV transmission line linking Abeokuta to Ikeja West was constructed in 1959 to transmit power to Ewekoro, specifically to serve Ewekoro/Papalanto Cement Factory.
With the creation of Ogun State in 1976, the transmission line had to be extended from Papalanto to Abeokuta for the construction of Ojere 132KV/33KV injection substation. Hence, the power supply to Abeokuta, the state capital is on a spur from the National Grid commissioned 50 years ago.
This 50- year-old transmission line is what is still serving the major sections of Ogun State, the Ogun Central and Ogun West senatorial districts. The demand for electricity had, however, exceeded the available capacity and that had resulted in frequent tripping off and load shedding.
Similarly, the 132KV transmission line from Aiyede through Sagamu to Ijebu-Ode which served the entire Ijebu and Remo Zones of the state could not cope with the available power capacity; hence the power supply to the area had been very epileptic.
Furthermore, due to the low capacity of the conductor used for the transmission lines, they could not cope with maximum installed loads. For example, the 132KV transmission lines to Abeokuta could not pick more than 70MW as against the installed capacity of 120MW, while the one to Ijebu-Ode could not pick more than 40MW as against the installed cipacity of 120MW.
To compound the problem, the little energy allocated to the state was not properly managed by the PHCN as the distribution system lacked sustainable structures and the distribution network was bedeviled with a lot of failed distribution and power transformers and many other weaknesses such as overloaded 33KV and 11KV lines and facilities, inefficient operations, lack of essential materials for maintenance purposes, lack of expansion programmes, while there was total absence of service delivery culture.
The source of electricity supply had proven to be inadequate, irregular and unreliable to meet the need for sustainable economic development of Ogun State .
Most of the villages remained unconnected to the National Grid by the PHCN, while even in the cities, transformers were in very short supply.
As a result lof this, Ogun State government had to resort to the use of diesel powered generating sets as an alternative source of energy for all government establishments for efficient service delivery despite its high maintenance and running costs.
But this situation is being brought under control by the setting up of the state Energy Council to work towards reducing the challenges of the power supply in the state and ensure that power is supplied regularly to residents of the state while encouraging individuals or groups who are willing to invest in the power sector. Due to the importance attached to the council, Governor Daniel has assumed the chairmanship of the council.
The state Commissioner for Water Resources and Rural Development, Akogun Kola Onadipe, explained that the issue of Independent Power Project has been in the country for sometime.
He said that there were about 26 licensed independent power producers within Ogun State, while noting that the state is waiting for the regulation on tariff.
“It is based on that tariff that they will do their own financial arrangement with their investors and financial institutions that will provide the funds,” he added.
Onadipe, who is the vice chairman of the State Energy Council, added that government had allocated several lands for IPPs. He explained further that one of the reasons the state created the mini power plant was to look at a model which indicated that the energy demand the water corporation needs and some sensitive government institutions could be taken away from the national grid by giving them the power plant, saying that what is available in the national grid for the state will be enough for the people and the populace.
Onadipe said, “If, for instance, they give Abeokuta 10 megawatts and out of the 10, maybe four megawatts goes to Arakanga because water has to be given priority and the booster stations, another one megawatt, what is left is about five and five is not even enough for the populace.
“ Now that we have mini power plant for Arakanga, the government establishments, including governor’s office, house of assembly, judiciary, once we take their demand from the national grid, then what is left in the national grid which is about 10 will now be left for the populace. So, that’s the whole idea.”
He explained that the plant is costing the State N7.2billion with the plant house costing us N3.6billion plus its accessories, adding that the whole plant project will cost N10.8billion for 47megawatts.
A panel beater, Mr. Waheed Adedigba, lauded the initiative by the state government in improving power supply in the state commenting that the development would no doubt boost the socio-economic activities of the state.