By Chris Chimezie
Determined to ensure that the people of Ondo State enjoy uninterrupted power supply, the State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has disclosed that his administration has approved the construction of mini-grid power plants through investor-financed- business model in some of the state’s most deprived communities.
The Governor made this known while commissioning the 60MVA transformer at the 132/33kV transmission Substation in Akure.
Describing the move as part of Phase 1 of its electricity improvement scheme, he said most of the mini-grids are located in the Southern Senatorial District of the state.
“We have also come up with a unique Cluster Off-take Unit Policy framework for these mini-grid projects that empowers the communities to be marginal part-owners of those power plants.
“The goal is to ensure that we leverage ‘bottom-up approach’ in the provision of uninterrupted power supply for the first time in the history of the state, starting with communities that are off the National grid as provided for by the Nigerian Constitution”, he said.
Akeredolu, who assured that work would commence in the area by August ending, hinted that all associated problems would be rectified.
He added that apart from interfacing with Federal agencies, the present administration has taken up the abandoned state-owned 30 Megawatts Tri-fuel Power Plant located near Oluwa village about 17km from Ore town.
“I have directed that a joint team that includes the Ondo State Development and Investment Promotion Agency (ONDIPA) and the Office of Public Utilities (OPU) with the support of private sector individuals ensure the quick completion of that project and put it up for the use of the people.
“The Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) has formally confirmed to us of their readiness to serve as off taker for the entire 30MW”, he stated.
Arakunrin Akeredolu also enjoined the Distribution Companies of Nigeria (DISCO), to provide meters for all homes to avoid misunderstanding between consumers and DISCO staff members.
The Governor said that if every DISCO consumer was provided with a meter, they would be accountable for their electricity bill and it would reduce grievances against the company.
He noted that the Sub-station was a significant step in improving power supplies to different parts of Ondo and Ekiti states.
While noting that power is a critical requirement in economic growth, he stressed that its impact on education, health and other facets of life cannot be quantified.
He expressed dissatisfaction over the electricity challenges being faced by some communities in Ondo South and Ondo North Senatorial Districts which had been off from the national grid for several years.
“Our people are currently in running battles with the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) and DISCO, following their disconnection over what has been termed pre and post-privatisation debts.
“Of a truth, there are communities that have not had access to electricity for close to 14 years while some have never experienced electricity at all.
“The people are daily losing faith in the ability of government to provide reliable and uninterrupted power for their use,” he said.
Governor Akeredolu, who said works are progressing on some of the transmission projects, noted that the state desired that more funds be injected to speed up activities, particularly in Ondo South and North Senatorial Districts.
He assured that markets in the state would witness a full-scale deployment of hybrid solar power technology that would permanently resolve the challenges of erratic power supply witnessed by people in the markets.
Arakunrin also revealed that a-15 Megawatt Independent Power Project (IPP) would be installed at Alagbaka in Akure for the use of government establishments and government-owned residential quarters and estates in that axis.
The Governor, however, appreciated the APC-led Federal Government’s policy pronouncements that are opening up the power sector, saying states, local government authorities and the private sector should be drafted to play important roles at this crucial time.
Earlier, Managing Director of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Mr Usman Mohammed said with the installation of the 1X60MVA 132/33KV in Akure, communities in Akure metropolis and its environs including Igbara-Oke, Oba-ile, Iju-Ita-Ogbolu and others would experience remarkable improvements in power supply.
He said the step was in line with the policy of President Muhammadu Buhari – led Administration to expand and stabilise electricity in the country and ensure that it attain 20,000 megawatt by 2021.
The TCN Managing Director explained that the Federal Government was aimed at providing operational flexibility and reliability in delivering bulk power to distribution companies, international customers as well as other customers connected directly to the national grid.
Mohammed pointed out that the installation of the 132/33KV would raise the capacity of the substation from 120 megawatts to 180 megawatts.
“The installation of the 1X60MVA will also increase the total wheeling capacity of TCN, which was 7,124MW when it was last simulated in 2017.
“We’re working round the clock to ensure the successful completion of the Osogbo-Akure-Benin North 330KV DC line”, he said.
He, however, appealed to Distribution companies to invest in their network so that the massive investment by TCN and Generation Companies can lead to economic growth.