By Obas Esiedesa
Five industrial customers have been connected directly to power generation plants operated by Mainstream Energy Limited, cutting off the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has revealed.
The Minister had in May last year declared the Eligible Customer Policy which allowed big entities to purchase power directly from Generation Companies (GenCos), as government tries to make more electricity available to consumers.
Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited is the concessionaire of Kainji and Jebba Hydro Power Plants with a combined capacity of 1338.4 Megawatts.
Fashola who spoke in Minna, Niger State, on Monday at the opening of the 29th Power Stakeholders meeting hosted by Mainstream Energy Limited, said 26 other companies were also seeking to be directly linked to power plants.
He insisted that distribution remains the biggest challenge facing the sector.
He explained that the Eligible Customer policy was introduced amongst others, to improve distribution side of electricity and facilitate better power supply to consumers who consumed up to two megawatts and above.
“From reports reaching me, five industrial customers are now benefitting from the policy and taking their power directly from a GenCo, who incidentally is our host today, Messrs Mainstream Energy Ltd.
“We also have a list of 26 industrial customers who are seeking to benefit from the policy”.
He however assured that the DisCos would not lose out in the implantation of the policy, saying he has “also issued directives to NERC to work out and implement Competition Transition Charges as provided by Law, to safeguard them from any losses”.
He noted that the government through various policies is determined to resolve distribution challenges facing the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
He explained that distribution challenges have led to unused 2,000 Megawatts of power and many customers without meters.
He told the stakeholders which included government officials, operators, suppliers and regulators that “those who know and who genuinely desire to solve problems in this industry do not need to be told that the most pressing challenge of the sector today lies at the distribution end”
He explained that “amongst the challenges at this sector of the value chain, (and there are problems in gas, generation and transmission), the most urgent are distribution of available energy to consumers, and there is an unused energy in the region of 2,000 Megawatts in this category.
“The other, of course, is the supply of meters to consumers. These two issues of power distribution and supply of meters rank highest in the feedback from the stakeholders in the industry”.
On Meter Asset Provider (MAP), he said the policy was introduced to address the meter supply gap, relieve the DISCOs of the financial burden of meters.
He said reports reaching him indicated that there was an embracement of the policy, adding that entrepreneurs were showing interest and talking to banks to raise finance.