All Eyes On TCN, As New PHCN Owners Take Charge

No Comments » January 6th, 2014 posted by // Categories: Energy Development Project


All Eyes On TCN, As New PHCN Owners Take Charge
Saturday, 02 November 2013 20:53 Written by By Marcel Mbamalu (News Editor) and Emeka Anuforo, Abuja

Manitoba-takes-over• We Are Ready To Perform, Says TCN Chief

• DISCOs Demand 100 Percent Funding

• Human Rights Group Urges Strict Regulation

• 10% Govt Shares For Workers

• Employees Demand Unhindered Unionism In New Firms

PRIVATE investors and administrators, Friday, took over the management of 14 successor generation and distribution firms (GENCOs and DISCOs) of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), but all eyes are now fixed on the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), which is saddled with the responsibility of wheeling generated electricity to distributors for onward sale to consumers.

But, in a telephone chat Saturday, Mr. Don Priestman, the chief executive officer of Manitoba Hydro International —the Canadian firm that manages the TCN for Nigerians — gave the assurance that “things are changing” for the good of the electricity sector.

As new owners took over, at the weekend, after being put on hold since the August 21 original handover date when they completed payment for the firms, there is cautious optimism over the ability of the TCN to live up to expectations in certain areas of its envisaged functions as Market Operator (MO) and System Operator (SO), among others.

Manitoba was offered a three-year management contract for TCN in September 2012 to work with an in-house team and take control of the daily operations of the company. The Canadian firm is expected to revamp TCN to achieve technical and financial adequacy in addition to providing stable transmission of power without system failure.

It is also expected that TCN will become a commercially viable and market-driven company capable of evacuating the maximum capacity of energy generated for distribution.

Chairman of the Distribution Companies Roundtable, the umbrella body of the new owners of the 10 distribution companies, Dr. Ransome Owan, told The Guardian that the investors were eager to have the TCN truly transformed to a world-class organisation for the nation to witness the required effect from the handover of utilities.

He insisted that 100 percent funding of government’s obligation to the TCN has become very imperative for the reforms work.

Owan called on government to open the commercial space and allow private sector to collaborate with TCN, construct and extend the grid as well as share in the toll fees approved by the regulator for flowing power to end-users.

“The lekki Toll Road and tolls charged for merely entering our airports to drop/pick passenger are good examples of infrastructure financing models to adopt. Once the new grids are commissioned, TCN takes over the operation as a national asset and the investors are recompensed for solving a national problem. This is a win-win solution.”

TCN’s CEO, Mr. Priestman, told The Guardian that the company is prepared to wheel electricity and to bridge the gap between supply and demand.

He observed that, though it would take time and funding to attain the desired evacuation capacity — especially as the transmission outfit had, for long, been starved of funds for maintenance — the Federal Government was successful in the timely privatization of the GENCOs and DISCOs.

“For a long time, the TCN was underfunded and did not have enough fund for maintenance… but that is now changing; we are seeking funds; money is coming and I’m hopeful that that the necessary steps will be taken,” he said.

Priestman, who also supported 100 percent funding, in line with the demand of the DISCOs, said, “we are working with government and the regulator to determine the amount of money that is needed.”

In a recent interview with The Guardian, however, Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, gave the assurance that government was reforming the TCN to prepare it for the increased electricity activities post privatisation.

He said the stability of the national grid was being enhanced to ensure effective transmission of any quantity of power being generated in the new dispensation

Meanwhile, National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and former federal commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria, Emmanuel Onwubiko, has drawn attention to the urgent need for the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to monitor the new electricity service providers.

He reminded the Commission that part of consumers’ expectation in the new era is to ensure that their rights remain sacrosanct and that they are not shortchanged.

Onwubiko called for commensurate improvement in electricity power distribution and transmission to all parts of Nigeria, even as he urged quick coverage of all rural communities that are yet to be hooked to the national grid.

“There must adequate enlightenment campaigns and advocacy to be waged by NERC and NGOs across the country, so that Nigerians are educated of their rights and duties as we enter this new dispensation,” he added.

In a related development, government and electricity workers have agreed that workers would retain 10 percent of government’s remaining equity shares in the electricity utilities whenever it decides to divest such shares. Both parties reached this agreement on Thursday in a meeting that reportedly motivated the Senior Staff Association of Electricity Employees (SSAEAC) and the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) to withdraw their members from the initial plan to disrupt the handover ceremony.

A copy of the agreement obtained by The Guardian shows that both parties also agreed to ensure unhindered unionisation in the new owners as guaranteed by the Labour laws.

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