AS CBN CONTINUES TO DISBURSE THE BALANCE OF THE 213 BILLION FACILITY TO THE POWER SECTOR

CBN is set to continue with the disbursement of the Power Sector stabilisation fund. But, how can this translate into an increase in the availability of electricity supply to consumers? How can we keep the Lights on in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry?

CBN, working with NERC, needs to set a legal framework which combines availability of supply, risk management and business efficiency in a set of service level agreements (SLAs) which is linked to the intervention fund to be provided to the operators. The strategy should include an incentive to the utilities with appreciable improvement in the availability of supply over a period of time compared to a pre-determined benchmark which reflects the status quo. In this regard, targets need to be set and the performances of individual utilities against these benchmark targets are measured. These targets are to be set in accordance with the overall aim of increased availability of power supply to consumers within the shortest possible time. Notable indices to be used will include the number of interruptions to customers (a.k.a Customer Interruptions or CIs) and the duration for which customers have their supplies switched-off (a.k.a Customer Minutes Lost or CMLs). The incentive has to be well worth it to encourage utilities to want to invest in the network in the most efficient way to improve network performance. There should also be penalties for utilities that under-perform to the hitherto worse benchmark targets. Year-on-year, targets, incentives and penalties are then adjusted to reflect the level of service delivery desired. When properly implemented, utilities will design the electricity network to optimise the level of security or availability of supplies to consumers, commit the right resources and employ the use of automatic switching schemes to ensure prompt restoration of electricity supplies to customers in the event of faults on the network.

A successful business is one that puts customer satisfaction in the core of its activities and the electricity supply business is no exception. As Power System faults are inevitable, much is left to be desired when utilities show a complacent attitude towards consumers in the way and manner they carry out the works necessary to restore power supplies following faults. Hence, another incentive that NERC should introduce will focus on how utilities perform under stakeholder engagement and management especially before, during and after the repair of faults and restoration of supplies.

NERC should ensure that the legal framework includes regulations that compel utilities to provide accurate information about their activities using a common platform that will be transparent and fair. The schemes will only reward utilities that provide useful information about Network Incidents, Faults, Restoration times and other relevant information as accurately as possible. Like any other serious business, there is need for proper monitoring of how utilities claim they are meeting these targets and verifiable evidence will be required. Of all forms of verification, the most reliable will be from the consumers who are at the receiving end. It will be most beneficial for NERC to carry out a comprehensive study to determine the health index of every item of plant on the electrical network as a veritable means of monitoring improvements in the Power System following the introduction of these and other schemes that enhance network performance.

The government will definitely subsidise the power sector for many more years especially because those who bought the Nigerian Asset do not understand Power Systems. Those who allowed them brought this shame on the nation, the giant of Africa!

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