Jonathan Shops For Power Minister, TCN Board Chairman

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May clear confusion over Manitoba contract Tuesday
PRESIDENT
Goodluck Jonathan has begun a move to resolve the crisis in the electricity
sector, which was signalled last week with the alleged termination of the
Manitoba contract. However,
the President during a media chat on Sunday said that the contract was not
revoked.

It
was learnt at the weekend that the President plans to fill two critical
vacancies in the electricity sector, namely those of the power minister and
chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN)
to work with Manitoba.

The
confusion in the electricity sector may be cleared today as the President is
said to have asked for the files on power sector projects to be on his table
this week.
There
were earlier speculations that the issue of the minister of power has been
resolved with the deployment of former Minister of State, Niger Delta Affairs,
Hajiya Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi, as Minister of State. Some observers saw the
action as an indication that the President may have decided to hold on to the
position of minister of power while Kuchi and the Presidential Task Force on
Power (PTFP) would do the ‘field work.’
But
reliable sources said at the weekend that the President was looking beyond
Kuchi. The President, it was learnt, is still not satisfied with the
development at the Ministry of Power and wants a seasoned expert to run the
place.   “He is seriously shopping for a substantive minister of power to
fill the big shoes left behind by Prof. Barth Nnaji,” The Guardian was told.
It
is not clear in whose direction the President is looking, but it was
established at the weekend that Jonathan may not necessarily be considering
ethnicity in the quest to institute a good leadership structure and restore
discipline at the Ministry of Power. “Only the best will get the job,” a
source said.
The
Guardian learnt also that in shopping for a reliable chairman of the TCN board,
the President is conscious of instituting a good leadership structure for the
firm, which would remain a government entity after the departure of Manitoba.
The
nation’s transmission system has severally been identified as one of the
biggest woes of the electricity sector. The country has continued to lose some
of the megawatts of the electricity it managed to add to its generation
accomplishments. The Guardian learnt that the nation’s transmission network in
its current state cannot cope with the rate of generation should electricity
improve very significantly.
The
non-constitution of the Supervisory Board of TCN has been one of the issues
plaguing the effective take-off of the Manitoba Hydro International contract.
Part of the understanding for the engagement of Manitoba was the formal
activation of its contract and the constitution of a supervisory board for TCH.
The supervisory board is to interface between government and Manitoba and
ensure that the three-year contract is well constituted and that the nation’s transmission
system is upgraded and to make it to be able to cope with the
post-privatisation era.
The
supervisory board of about seven persons is to work alongside the incoming
expatriate firm’s management, in this case, Manitoba for now. A tough and firm chairman
of TCN board, according to sources, will ensure that the terms of engagement of
the expatriate managing firm are well executed.
The
TCN is one of the 18 successor firms unbundled from the former Power Holding
Company of Nigeria (PHCN). But unlike the 17 others slated for either outright
privatisation or sale of equity, it was slated for management contract, meaning
that it is firmly in government control but managed by a world-class power
sector firm.
The
TCN was incorporated in November 2005. TCN emerged from the defunct National
Electric Power Authority (NEPA) as a product of the merger of the transmission
and operations sectors on April 1, 2004. 

Being one of the 18 unbundled business units under the PHCN, the company was
issued a transmission licence on July 1, 2006. TCN’s licensed activities
include: Electricity transmission, system operation and electricity trading.

Out
of frustration over the state of the transmission network, the Presidency
recently gave the TCN marching orders to ensure that government’s target of
having 5000mws of electricity by December is not hindered by transmission.

TCN was directed to conclude talks on integrating some of the recently
completed  National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) plants into the
spinning reserve and frequency control programme to shore up the daily reserve
especially as the profile of available but undelivered power is rising.

The
chairman of the PTFP, Beks Dagogo-Jack, said at the meeting in Abuja that TCN
must rise to the occasion and check the frequency of power grid collapses. The
meeting dealt extensively with the likely immediate and remote causes of the
collapses and identified a few remedy plans with short to long-term delivery
times. 

Two major causes for the system collapses were identified
as generation-side triggers especially during periods of very low power
availability and transmission-side triggers with the latter contributing over
60 per cent of the trigger incidents.

The
Chief Executive of TCN, Olusola Akinniranye, said: “The second factor is the
unreliability of the protection and relay systems which should (if properly
serviced) anticipate, isolate and limit the impact of a single system fault
from snow-balling into a grid collapse.   This combines with the lack of
an effective Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system designed
to provide grid intelligence and assist with managing the power grid. The
absence of SCADA weakens the system’s integrity.
“The
third major reason for the recurrent systems collapses is grossly insufficient
spinning reserve cum frequency control and system black start capability –
integral elements to sustaining power supply. The fourth significant cause of
collapses is isolated cases of vandalism at live power facilities. These
perpetrators compromise the power lines by bridging targeted segments of the
power grid to cause forced outages in order for them to steal installed power
facilities quickly before the stolen segment can be traced and restored.”
Source: Guardian

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