Following the forecast of the Nigerian Metrological Agency that there will be ravaging flooding resulting from long duration of rainfall this year, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on Thursday in its “must run” order, directed the three Hydroelectric Power Stations; Kainji, Jebba, and Shiroro, to as a matter of compulsion, operate their plants.
The order, which The Nation obtained from the commission’s website on Thursday was titled: “Order on mandatory dispatch of hydro power plant in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry.”
The investors in the plants Mainstream Energy Solution Limited and North-South Power Limited have been underutilizing the entities owing to load rejection and low demand from the electricity distribution companies (DisCos). The DisCos, in turn, blame their decision on lack of a cost-effective tariff and the weakness of the transmission network in the industry.
But the NERC on Thursday dropped the hint that a major consequence of the meteorological event on the operations of the three hydropower stations (i.e. Jebba, Kainji and Shiroro) has been high rate of reservoir fill-up which poses extreme environmental risks to lives/property downstream from the plants that could result in submerging entire villages along the riverbanks.
The commission said that its attention had been drawn to rising cost of wholesale energy to the electricity distributors in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) that was blamed on generated and wheeled energy.
The “increasing cost of wholesale energy to distribution licensees in NESI attributable to the generation mix of dispatched energy,” according to NERC.
According to the order that the NERC chairman, Prof. James Momoh and its Commissioner, Licensing and Compliance, Dr. Dafe Akeneye issued, the “must- run” status of the three plants shall be enforced in line with their daily nomination.
The commission assigned the System Operator (SO) of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to ensure strict compliance with the terms in the order in the dispatch of power plants in the industry.
In the event of any deviation or non-compliance with the terms of the order, the NERC mandated the SO to compulsorily submit detailed written justification to the Commission within 48 hours.
The commission insisted that the order took effect from September 18, 2019.
NERC said that : “(A). The 3 hydropower plants are hereby designated as “must-run” powerplants and shall be accorded high priority by the SO in the dispatch of grid connected power plants in Nigeria.
B. The “must-run” status of these 3 hydropower plants shall be implemented in accordance with the daily nomination of these plants.
C. The SO shall ensure strict compliance with the terms of this order in the dispatch of powerplants in NESI.
D. The SO must submit detailed written justification to the Commission within 48 hours for any event of deviation/non-compliance with the terms of this order.
E. This order takes effect from the 18th day of September 2019.”
The order explained that the commission is required by section 32 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (“EPSRA”) to�a. create, promote and preserve efficient industry and market structures, and to ensure the optimal utilization of resources for the provision of electricity services.
It added that NERC should ensure the safety, security, reliability, and quality of service in the production and delivery of electricity to consumers.
According to the order, the commission is expected to establish or, as the case may be, approve appropriate operation codes and safety, security, reliability and quality standards.
The order noted that Section 66 of EPSRA mandates the licensed System Operator (“50”) to carry out the activity of system operation, generation scheduling, commitment and dispatch in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (“NESI”).
NERC recalled that the SO in execution of the statutory mandate in 2 above issued the following merit order for NESI on 21 July 2017 –
Group 1: Hydro units (least cost) on free governor control and ancillary service.
Group 2: Other units identified to be on free governor control.
Group 3: Other units identified to be offering regulating reserve.
Group 4: Other units offering spinning reserve (i.e. the power plants contracted for the ancillary service).
Group 5: All plants dispatched subject to transmission constraints.
Group 6: All plants providing voltage support above statutory limit.
Group 7: All other power plants.
The order reads in part : “The meteorological forecasts for 2019 indicated that there would be significant events of flooding across the country and these forecasts have been confirmed with the high incidents of heavy rainfall for long durations across the country.
“A major consequence of this meteorological event on the operations of the 3 hydropower stations (i.e. Jebba, Kainji and Shiroro) has been high rate of reservoir fill-up which poses extreme environmental risks to lives/property downstream from the plants that could result in submerging entire villages along the riverbanks.
“The attention of the Commission has also been drawn to the increasing cost of wholesale energy to distribution licensees in NESI attributable to the generation mix of dispatched energy.
“The Commission notes that urgent regulatory intervention is required to address the issues identified above in the overall public interest of Nigerians in order to forestall preventable tragedies that could arise from the non-prioritised dispatch of the 3 hydropower stations.
“The Commission notes further that the SO has been apprised of the national security implications of the non-prioritised dispatch of the 3 hydropower stations by other agencies of government.”