• Our IPPs only power govt utilities, streetlights, says Commissioner
By Tope Templer Olaiya and Emeka Anuforo
LAST week’s commissioning of the 10.4 megawatts Alausa Independent Power Project (IPP), built at a cost of N3.2 billion has brought to three the number of IPPs operational in Lagos State.
An earlier commissioned 10MW on the island currently powers the general hospitals, Lagos High Courts, the State House, City Hall, Island Club, e-learning centre, some schools, churches and mosques on the island and so many public utilities; same for the 12.5MW sited in Akute, a border town in Ogun State.
Over 60 buildings and 4,000 offices at the state secretariat have been plugged into the Alausa IPP, which is a joint venture between the state government and Oando Gas and Power.
With these developments, as much as 130 heavy-duty generating sets, between the range of 30KVA and 50KVA, have been rendered redundant even as the drone of generators has become history in Alausa.
According to the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Power, Dr. Fouad Animashaun, two other power plants would be completed next year. They are the 8.8MW Mainland Power Plant that will serve Ikeja GRA, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Lagos Police Command, Ikeja High Court and Ikeja GRA. The second IPP, a 6MW gas project at Lekki will serve Victoria Island/Lekki Phase 1 waterworks, streetlights and other amenities in that axis.
According to the projection of the state government, with the introduction of energy saving bulbs in Alausa, the state would save N2.8 million monthly on its energy spending.
Governor Babatunde Fashola at the unveiling of the plants last week, said government had audited 1,300 buildings, offices and restaurants and discovered that there were about 17,000 generators in those places, which had resulted in many residents paying four times more through the generation of their own power alongside paying for unreliable supply from the national grid.
He said: “In Magodo, the whole estate is spending N8 million on diesel daily, yet it is connected to the national grid, but with IPP in place, they will now spend a little over N2 million at N12.75k per kilowatts per hour. In Lekki, about N12 million is spent daily on public electricity, but with an IPP, only a little over N3 million would be paid as rate.”
Fashola urged residents to switch over to retrofitted bulbs, which according to him, saves eight times the amount of money that would have been expended on electricity using the regular bulbs and in the long run would put more money in the pocket of consumers.
However, Lagos, with its ambitious aim of providing uninterrupted power to its citizens, could well be working outside the framework of the Power Reform Act of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), some observers say.
In line with the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSR) 2005, Independent Power Producers who have the capacity to generate electricity on or off-grid are welcome and it was on this basis that the Lagos State government applied and got license to build and operate the Alausa Power Plant.
According to the chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, the sale of generation and distribution firms of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) has not ditched other Independent Power Plant (IPP) projects.
“Lagos has a license to generate power for the use of some of its establishments. Every person, company or institution can be a captive generator or off-grid generator. There is no inconsistence between selling Ikeja or Eko DISCOs and Lagos State having a license for limited generation or distribution to its facilities,” Amadi said.
He explained that the dedicated license issued to Lagos State for the Alausa Power Plant restricts its distribution to state facilities within Alausa and environs.
The Guardian learnt, however, that Lagos State is not permitted to sell the power generated. They are also not permitted to use the existing distribution network of PHCN.
Section 62 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 provides that any person intending to engage in the business of electricity generation, transmission, system operation, distribution or trading shall be required to obtain an operator’s license from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.
Lagos State Commissioner of Energy and Mineral Resources, Taofiq Ajibade Tijani, said “the Alausa plant is restricted to the secretariat, except for a few government facilities like the Surveyor General’s office, Lagos Television and Radio Lagos, Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) building, churches, mosques and all the streetlights around Alausa. There is a misconception about the governor’s comment on how residential areas like Magodo can generate their own power.
“What the governor said was that we have conducted energy audit to investigate what they are spending on PHCN and diesel and explain the issue of waste and energy conservation in the sense that if they decided to have an IPP for the estate, the gas they would be using may not be up to N2 million, which is also environmental friendly.
“We never said we would give power to anybody from our own IPP. In fact, we have some commercial buildings in Marina and Broad Street – UBA House, First Bank, etc – coming to ask us to give them power but we told them it’s not possible,” he explained.
Already, officials of NERC are due in Lagos soon to meet with government officials in charge of the plant and ensure that work within the ambits of the license issued them, as some residential buildings living close to some of the power installations are already enjoying free uninterrupted power supply to their homes.