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Engr Olice hails Bayelsa Govt efforts to boost electricity . Blames consumers, FG for electricity woes

Engineer Olice Kemenanabo, Managing Director of Bayelsa Electricity Company Limited is a renowned Electrical Engineer endowed with unparalleled wealth of experience in the electricity sector and beyond.
Engr. Olice Kemenanabo
 He is a disciplined, resourceful humble and vibrant man of proven integrity embodied with exemplary impeccable character. In this exclusive interview with the Editor-in-Chief of Global Overseer Newspaper, Mr. M. G. Inegbagha, the sage highlights the challenges in the power sector. He extol Bayelsa Restoration Government’s resolve towards ensuring availability of electricity supply in the state beyond Yenagoa the state capital. The pacesetter also bares his mind on sundry issues that would enhance constant electricity supply, the challenges and the motive behind the rationalization of power as well as the role consumers should play among others. Excerpts:- 

Our revered MD, we know that you are a man endowed with wealth of experience in the electricity sector and beyond, could you please highlight your role in the electricity sector in Bayelsa state?

My role as the Managing Director of Bayelsa Electricity Company Limited according to the mandate given to company is to put together a robust plan that will create sustainable electricity for the entire state and beyond. The Bayelsa Electricity Company Limited was establish by the State Government to develop, rehabilitate, modify and upgrade existing infrastructure and to liaise with institutions of the state and federal government to create a utility service that will catalyze socio-economic activities in the state.

Sir, on your inception to office, what have you been doing to achieve your statutory responsibilities as the MD of the company?

Well, first and foremost, my relationship with the entire power system predates this appointment. So, I have a reasonable knowledge of the entire system. I consider myself as an engineering practitioner whose knowledge modestly cuts across the various segments of electricity. I have been involved in conceptualization, to construction, operation and management of the various chains of the power system over two decades which places me in a vantage position to understand my even better. This is what I am schooled to do and given the right environment like the current one dictates I will rather be asking why I went to school if I don’t understand my role? It is this understanding that motivated me to embrace the privatization exercise.
We are also resolved to take our destiny in our hands by domesticating power supply using the abundant gas resources to generate and distribute electricity off-grid. This mode of electricity supply which is independent of the national grid is referred to as an embedded power system. Other than that we have been talking to various investors to create a domestic gas grid that will enable standby generators operate on natural gas instead of diesel.  That policy is what I have been driving from the inception of my appointment as the Managing Director of Bayelsa Electricity Company Limited.

Sir, could you please shed more light on the state government overall plan toward ensuring constant electricity supply against the current epileptic and rationalization of power in the state?

First and foremost, if there is enough power in the country then rationing or deliberate load shedding or outages wouldn’t have risen.
Secondly, the networks we operate aren’t free of technical encumbrances therefore local faults are obviously going to be there. Unfortunately, this is the realities of the networks in the entire nation. The networks that we have in the entire country are dilapidated and requires proper re-engineering. Now the case of Bayelsa state is rather worrisome as we have only one transmission station for the entire state in Gbaran. This makes total power unavailability pronounced anytime there is an issue. We depend on only a single 2x40MVA, 132/33kV transmission station that was commissioned in 2006. The load growth in the state has surpassed the capacity of the station so to save the equipment from overload, the only option available is to load-shed. The current situation is even frightening as one of the two power transformers has packed up. The luck we have however, is the upgrade we initiated with the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing through the power intervention program. The transmission aspect of the power system like you may be aware is in the purview of the federal government and managed by the Transmission Company of Nigeria for the whole nation. Under the intervention scheme, we were able to pull out an upgrade of the 2x40MVA, 132/33kV station to 1x90/95MVA, 132/33kV with the intention to make it 2x90/95 in the future. The 40MVA transformers according to our proposal would have been relocated to another area to ensure flexibility but like I said earlier one of them packed up in March so we are like a one legged man that is why the load shedding is very prevalent in the state. 
The good news is that the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing through my relentless efforts not minding the fact that this project was awarded by a previous government funded the project effectively so we are almost there. That makes our evacuation of power from the station aggregated to 130MVA which is an improvement on the 80MVA that subsequently reduced to 40MVA with the failure of one of them. The load shedding will soon come to an end with the commissioning of the 90MVA. There is also a mobile 40MVA Transmission Station that we have agreed with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to be installed at a strategic location to create flexibility and availability but there is a caveat. Energy evacuated has to be paid for at least up to 80% otherwise the distribution company will be reluctant to pick load and distribute.
This plan for electricity infrastructure was what we put together when I was the Chairman of Power Generation and Distribution Committee, before my appointment. So, following the meticulous implementation of this plan, the state government has been able to provide access to electricity to various communities outside the state capital but the electrons on the wires are not yet available. So far so good before this present administration, there was no power supply to Amassoma, Odi, Sagbama and environs, Sampou, Agbere, Odoni and communities across the Epie creek. The lines to Nembe which hitherto passed through a very offensive and inaccessible terrain has been reconstructed. Maintenance of these lines through such a thick and virgin forest has been a serious problem so the relocation will now make life easier for the operators of the networks.
So, there has been a robust approach toward creating a distribution network that will be able to supply almost all the communities. Then, we are also doing a rehabilitation of the existing Kolo creek distribution network with over 400 kilometres of distribution network at 33/0.400KV to extend power to Southern Ijaw through the Angiama Substation. The line to feed Southern Ijaw from Imiringi has been rehabilitated and can effectively deliver power to toAngiama where it could be distributed to various other communities. Unfortunately, as we are addressing how to take delivery of the substation equipment ordered by a contractor, the already installed items are being vandalized in the glare of the community.

You have also highlighted some of the challenges in the power sector, Sir, could you shed more light on your challenges apart from the aforementioned since your inception to office?

Well, the most difficult challenge that any power practitioner would face in this country, and is still facing is the lack of understanding of the power system sector. The power system is a very dynamic system such that if you don’t have electricity generated you cannot get electricity distributed. And those that are generating electricity did not come here as charity organizations. They came here to be in business which means they have to recoup their investments. Therefore, the notion of electricity as a social and political services has to change and it is that change that remains our greatest impediment. Almost all the NIPP plants executed by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company has one teething problem or other. Yes the plants are there and would contributed to the generation surge in the country but I bet you to go and visit the stations and ask the operators their challenges.  If the gas companies that supply gas to the power generator cannot get their money paid,they will deny you of gas.  If the generating company cannot recoup his cost of generation plus at least his return on investment, he will not be able to sustainably drive the generating system. And if the transmission system has bottlenecks then it will also not be able to transmit electricity to the various distributions points or various load centres. Then, if the distribution network is also not strong to accept and evacuate supply to the consumersthen the entire system is in trouble. Finally, if the most important aspect of this system which is the distribution company and their consumers are not able to collect efficiently to service the entire value chain, then the system is in comatose. And that is exactly the major challenge we have.

 There is this problem of estimated outrageous bills. What can you say about it?

Thank you for raising this issue. There is no person including me who will accept to pay for any commodity or service without a qualitative means of measurement. For instance the garri we consume, the pepper you buy, the tomato and all other commodities are paid for based on a medium of acceptable measurement to both the seller and the buyer. Therefore the is no justification to charge electricity based on the guess of the seller. To that extent I am a serious protagonist of provision of meters, prepaid one for that matter. Before, I continue let me tell you a story. I had a woman, highly respected and influential who raised the issue of outrageous bills and I volunteered to give her one meter but after about a month she called me to say she will prefer to go back to the estimated bills platform because the meter I gave to her is giving her even more outrageous bills. How do you address such a preposterous position if you are in my shoes? This why I say it is lack of understanding of the power system that poses the heaviest challenge to us.
Well to address this and other issues we have requested for the provision of 12,000 pre-paid meters from PHED and the first batch of 1,000 have already been received. We will commence installation on the most strategic and problematic feeders and watch the situation. There are bad eggs in the system who has always compromised the meters with the consumers so to check that we will make every consumer to sign undertaking that if the meters are tampered with the weight of the law plus other sanctions shall be imposed.

So, if you vend your meter and you decide to waste electricity by keeping all your lights on when they are not  necessary, then you will lose plenty money in payment of electricity. To conserve your money you will need to be disciplined in the usage of electricity instead of wasting it particularly in the afternoon when security lightsare seen competing with the sunlight. 

 Sir, what is your opinion on the call to repeal the electricity privatization law in the country?

It is the biggest mistake anybody will think of, biggest mistake in the sense that power system cannot be warehouse by the state government and then the federal government or local government. Because this is the commodity just like petroleum product which people were saying that had no subsidy and the rest of them before this current government came in.  They have now realized how difficult it is, and therefore decided to attend to full deregulation. Something that they road on to come to power, they come to realize that is it a major bottleneck; it is major challenge. So, handing over the system to the status quo as it were before the privatization is going to spell doom for the entire system.

And what is the role of the electricity consumers toward the actualization of your set goals in ensuring constant electricity in the state?

The consumers are most important legs and arms of the electricity value chain because if the consumers are not responding to payment, then the entire value chain cannot be service. That is why their role is extremely significant if the power system has to survive. The is the operators of the distribution networks responsibility to educate the masses and treat them as the most important of all. Let us work to together in agreement to ensure the survival and safe delivery of this service.

Do you have a word to the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company with regards to assisting the state government to ensuring constant electricity supply in the state?

There is no word that I will give to Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company to assist PHEDC that the operators don’t know about the role of government. The state governments particularly Bayelsa and Rivers are the sole providers of the various distribution networks and expansion on them. These investments have always been treated as sunk cost by the governments because they realize and appreciate the political backlash of not doing it. And so the state government has always been an operator in a socio-political system arrangement while the distribution companies play the techno-economic role. It is therefore my advice to the distribution companies to fish out those who don’t believe in our shared values dreams and vision) to create a utility that will be enduring and show them the way out. That will encourage government to invest more as well.

 Sir, your last word.
My last word is that power is not free. Power has a structure and for us to service that structure we should sacrifice as much as we can to compliment the companies and governments efforts. A situation where we connive with unscrupulous elements to vandalize electrical installations is unacceptable. Protect what has been installed to allow for expansion and improvement.









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