TCN takes measures to stabilise national electricity grid, improve power supply

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Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) says attainment of required  frequency control, availability of spinning reserve and expansion of transmission networks are key to stabilising the national grid and improving electricity supply in the country.

The Managing Director of TCN, Mr Usman Mohammed said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday.

According to Mohammed, effort is on-going to stabilise the grid and improve electricity supply via its Transmission Rehabilitation Expansion Plan (TREP).

“Since we came in February 2017, we inherited a Transmission Company of Nigeria which was managed by Manitoba Hydro Company.

“For four years, what Nigeria paid Manitoba hydro for the contract for three years was 23 million dollars plus.

“But Manitoba hydro mismanaged TCN to the  extent  that  the  company  was  at the point of total collapse, so when we came, we had to come  up with a programme on how to move TCN forward.

“We need to archive frequency control and by the Grace of God, since June 2017, we have archived frequency control of 49.5 and 50.5 and this has not been archived in the last 20 years.

“However, the grid code requirement for frequency control is suppose  to  be  49.75 and 50.25, the West African Power Pool (WAPP)  code is suppose to be  49.80 and 50. 2.

“And we have established a plan to archive 49.80 and 50 .2 but we are waiting for the appropriate time to implement it.

“The second  thing  we  need  to archive is what we call `Spinning Reserve’ , if you check our daily broadcast, you will see the spinning reserve is either  0 or 40 Mega Watts (MW),” he said.

According to  him, spinning reserve is  putting  the generators  on a  mood  in such a way that  if there is  great instability, the  generators will  start up , it is an auxiliary service that is  needed  to be  paid for.

“When we came last year, we established a committee to review why we don’t get spinning reserve from the generators that we have signed contract with.

“The outcome of that committee indicated that the tariff we are paying for spinning reserve is not good enough.

“So we wrote to the Nigeria Electricity and Regulatory Commission (NERC) and recommended the appropriate tariff that is good and NERC approved it in July that we should go for competitive procurement of spinning reserve.

“We have advertised for the procurement of 300MWs of spinning reserve, and this is the first time in the history of power sector that we have done such.

“Now we are procuring 300MWs, but the ultimate is supposed to be 450MWs, so when we get to 300MW, we are going to see how we can further increase it by another 150MWs.

“Because the  spinning  reserve is supposed to be 10 per cent  of  the total generation capacity, so with the generation capacity of 4,500 MWs  to 5,000MWs, we are supposed to have  a spinning reserve of 450MWs,” he said.

He also identified procurement of a functional Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) as veritable instrument to attain the desired result in the power sector.

The SCADA systems are essential modern tools for effective systems operations that provide real time data and voice exchange between remote power stations and the National Control Centre (NCC).

It is required for display of operation, control and management of the power system network.

Mohammed said that Nigeria had attempted to procure a functional SCADA three times and was not successful.

“The last one took place between 2006 and 2007, when the World Bank financed the SCADA.

“Nigeria spent about 46 million dollars on the project but the SCADA that was completed had significant deficiency that it cannot see more than 40 per cent of the network.

“So when we came,  we established  a committee to see why Nigeria has attempted to procure a SCADA and had not been successful.

“The findings of the committee indicated that there were deficiencies, so we brought in power grid of India, Ghana and Italy to take further look at the findings of the committee.

“We also brought original SCADA equipment manufactures and all the experts of SCADA to scrutinise the report of the committee and the experts came up with their findings.

“Their findings have significantly improved the report of the committee. Now  it has become very clear from the SCADA experts reports that we cannot even  start the procurement of the  SECDA  until we fix our network communication backbone.’’

He said that the execution of critical investments in transmission lines and substations was inevitable to further improve the grid, and ultimately power supply in the country.

“The most important thing we need to do to stabilise the grid so that it become very modern is that we need to have critical investment in lines and substations.

“We need to expand the grid and put what is called N-1, it means anywhere you have a need for 60MWs transformer, you install 60x2MWs.

“Anywhere you have a need for a line, you either construct two lines or you build the line in loop.’’

According to him, TCN has raised 1.7 billion dollars from multilateral donors for the expansion of the grid as well as installed 29 transformers between 2017 and August 2018.

He said that the on-going TREP was designed to expand the grid to 20,000MWs by 2021.

Mohammed said that TCN in-house engineers were completing projects abandoned 10 years ago by contractors at less that 10 per cent of the initial cost.

“TCN is building a substation on an Island, when I came and asked for the cost estimate for the construction of that substation, it was about one billion naira.

“I can tell you the job is about 95 per cent complete now and what we have spent is less  than N100 million, why because we are using  in house capacity, we are  bringing innovation.’’

On DisCos, faulting implementation of N72 billion distribution network projects, Mohammed said “it is not the DisCos that said they don’t know about TCN managing the fund, it is association of DisCos.

“We don’t deal with the association of DisCos, because we deal with the people that we have agreement with.

“This N72 billion is an intervention by the Federal Government because of lack of investment in the DisCos.

“It is actually the failure of the Discos to perform that is creating a lot of issue in the system that compelled the government with 40 per cent share in the DisCos to provide the fund.

“The N72billion is small money compared to what we need to expand the network of the DisCos.

“But we are working with the DisCos that are actually interested in the project, and TCN is not solely managing the N72 billion, the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) is situated in TCN.

“It is TCN, ministry of power, and interested DisCos that are doing the procurement and all the evaluation that are involved.’’

The TCN managing director, who is also the Chairman of WAPP executive board said what was required for the DisCos to improve distribution network was innovation and investment. (NAN)

Biola Lawal

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