Aba Power confirms reconnection to grid after N120m debt payment

THE Aba Power has been reconnected to the national grid on Monday after 10 days of disconnection by the market operator arm of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

The reconnection followed payment of N120 million of outstanding debt that the Aba Power owed the operator.

The company confirmed this development in a statement it issued on May 1, 2023.

The TCN had on April 19 issued a 30-day notice to Aba Power to clear a debt of N896 million. On the same date, it directed its market operator unit to remove Aba Power completely from the national grid within a few hours.

Over 20,000 members of the Aba Landlords Protection and Development Association (ALPDA) threatened to mobilise to the Alaoji Power Plant in Abia State and occupy it if the TCN failed to rescind its disconnection order.

“Despite the unfavourable operating environment in the country, which has gravely impacted our customers’ ability to pay their bills, Aba Power paid N120m to the Market Operator last Friday, so as to reconnect it to the grid immediately,” the company said.

Aba Power took effective control of the Aba Ringfence servicing nine local government areas in Abia State last September and said it had paid N440 million to the Federal government agencies in the power sector in the last six months.

“This is the first and only time in Nigeria’s history that an entire area serviced by an electricity distribution company has been cut off from the grid, with all the far-reaching socioeconomic and security implications for the whole nation. In the case of other DisCos, not more than feeders would be put out for two or three days, despite owing billions of naira,” the company said.

The company called for support from all the stakeholders. “We need individuals and communities to guard power infrastructure in their localities and report any suspicious act of vandalism to us or to any security agency. We constantly lose expensive machines, equipment, and materials to thieves.

“We also need electricity consumers to pay their bills as and when due. When we generate revenue from customers who pay for power consumed, we will be able to discharge our obligations to not just electricity providers like the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Ltd, but also to government agencies like the Transmission Company of Nigeria. As a result, we will be able to avoid experiences like cutting off people and businesses in the Aba Ring fence from the national grid,” it said.

It added that a situation where only 40 per cent of businesses and individuals in the Aba Ringfence pay what they should is unacceptable. “Many electricity consumers bluntly refuse to pay for power consumed. Some engage in meter bypassing; some others in other grave malpractices which can only make constant, quality and affordable power supply very difficult,” the company said.

Apart from Aba Power, the TCN had also removed the Kano and Kaduna electricity distribution companies (Discos), as well as APL Electric Limited from the national grid because they breached the rules guiding the market operations.






     

     

    TCN’s Market Operator chief, Edmund Eje, told The ICIR that there is a market agreement that must be adhered to in order to lessen the burden of power sector subsidy on the Federal government.

    Eje said, “There is a market rule, and once there is a breach, there has to be  a sanction. There is also room for curing and remediation. Discipline is key for the sector, nobody needs to be reminded to  play its role.

    “This illiquidity in the sector and other related issues started last year, and processes were followed. However, the narrative from some of the affected utilities made it seem like the market operator just acted this week, without prior engagements.”

    He stressed that generation companies and other ancillary service providers were losing from non-compliance to the market rule by some power firms and distribution companies.

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

    Join the ICIR WhatsApp channel for in-depth reports on the economy, politics and governance, and investigative reports.

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