Blackout persists in Nigeria, despite tariff hike

MOST  Nigerian cities are still unable to have improved power supply, despite tariff hikes of over 200 per cent and expected premium services for Band A customers.

Earlier this month, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) announced a tariff increment of over 200 per cent for Band A customers who use power for an average of 20 hours daily.

The tariff was increased from N68 to as high as N200/kilowatt-hour, while subsidy would remain for those consuming less electricity.

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The tariff increment has, however, failed to solve epileptic power supply concerns even for the Band A customers, many of whom have complained to The ICIR about blackouts in their respective areas.

To state the least, Nigeria, with over 200 million population, is still generating below 5,000 megawatts of electricity, which could not serve a significant portion of the population.

According to the National Electricity System Operator data, the power generated on Wednesday, April 17, was 3,495.04 megawatts.

“We get an average of 16 hours per day and now pay for higher services. It’s not still satisfactorily enough,” a Band A customer in Abuja, Bridget Okorie, told The ICIR.

Another Band A customer, Oluchi Nwofor, said the power supply in her residence had improved, noting that it’s not up to 20 hours a day.

“We don’t get up to 20hrs per day yet. We have also escalated the complaints through the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company complaints channel. They have assured us it would be sorted out soon,” Oluchi said.

Currently, most of the 11 distribution companies are working to upgrade their feeders and move more customers to Band A, which would bring more money into their businesses.

This development has led to priority being given to Band A premium customers at the expense of other bands. Many of these customers complain of a drop in their power supply in their respective residences.

“Since this tariff hike issue started, we have only had an average of five hours of light. It’s not steady; it’s more of 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off,” Margareth Usman, a customer in Band C, told The ICIR.

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Another resident of Arab Road in Kubwa, who was previously classified under Band A, complained about the downgrading of their transformer feeder to Band B.

“We used to get an average of 20 hours of light per day before the Band A tariff hike. Now, it’s not so again. We get a maximum of 12 hours of light per day. I learned they downgraded our feeder to Band B,” Matthew Ogala, a resident of the Kubwa Arab road, told The ICIR.

DisCos overwhelmed by Consumer complaints, invest in feeders

Most Distribution Companies(DisCos) are currently overwhelmed with customer complaints following their inability to meet up with the 20-hour-per-day power supply for Band A users.

Jos Disco, as seen below, has apologized to customers in its franchise areas under Band A for not meeting the 20-hour power supply.

On the other hand, those who were classified in other bands are struggling for improved power access as DisCos gradually shifts attention to Band A customers through ‘power feeder upgrades’ to make more profits.

For instance, the Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) has confirmed investment in network expansion and improvement in power supply, though all customers are expected to enjoy such an expansion.

Eko DisCo is also improving its feeders to migrate more customers into Band A.

The ICIR gathered that Enugu DisCo has also contacted customers for a consumer awareness programme to resolve complaints about poor power supply and tariff hikes.

Grid collapse and the need for grid automation

The national grid has already witnessed six collapses this year, raising concerns about managing more loads as DisCos upgrades their feeders to accommodate more customers into Band A.

Energy experts say grid stability is still a concern, with more people being migrated to Band A unless there is automated grid management.



    “The national grid management system has remained analogue and opaque. An automated grid management system as costly as it may be will have given better results, “Kunle Kola Olubiyo, President of Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, told The ICIR.

    TCN  says grid management is being automated gradually

    As a result of an incessant grid collapse, TCN said the company had recently deployed a generation dip/loss detection system, which plays a key role in detecting and responding to sudden dips in power generation across the network.

    The TCN said this would help with the real-time monitoring and analysis of grid performance.

    “Its intuitive interface allows for the setting of parameters, continuous monitoring of power generating stations, and comprehensive reporting functionalities, enabling swift response to grid disturbance,” the TCN said in an official statement issued on Wednesday, April 17.

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    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.

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