The Federal government through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) on Thursday commissioned Nigeria’s first interconnected mini-grid projects, which will supply electricity to 2,000 households and businesses in the Toto community, of Nasarawa State.
The 352.24kWp (kilowatts peak) project was implemented by the Agency, under the Nigerian Electrifictaion Project funded by the World Bank.
Speaking during the commissioning, Adebayo Adelabu, minister of Power stated that the project was in furtherance of the Electricity Act signed into law by the president Tinubu administration, which empower states and local governments to partake in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity to citizens.
According to him, the project was a significant stride towards attaining the government goal of universal access by the year 2030.
“The minigrid we are inaugurating today is therefore a beacon of hope and a living proof of our commitment to reinvigorate the power sector, as it symbolizes our pledge to provide affordable energy to our rural communities and empower our citizens, regardless of their economic status.
“Everybody deserves to have electricity, whether you are small business, industry, agric rural business, we need to reduce the trend of rural urban migration. The end results is not desiring, it is a threat to food security in the country. So we must give power to people in the villages and that is what we are doing today and this government means every bit if what he says.
“The partnership among the REA, PowerGen limited and AEDC represents the synergy we aspire to achieve across the sector. Whereby all players inbthevarious segments can collaborate to deliver power to end consumers.
“Our strategy is going to be more practical, a workable strategy and it is bottom-up. We will start from customers to decide what they need, then we move to how do we deliver what they need. That is from the xustomer to distribution, transmission and generating companies. And we present the issues along that line so that we can get the result,” he said.
Noting that the project is providing 2000 connection both to households and businesses, Adelabu said that it will pave way for new busineses to grow, develop and it will reduce the cost of doing business.
“Because the cost of energy is a major part of the escalating cost of commodities in Nigeria. If you are able to reduce the cost of energy, I believe the total cost of production will reduce automatically and if the cost of production reduce, it will also reduce the prices at which we offer Goods and service to our people. When the prices of goods reduce it enables us to afford to buy produce and it has a direct impact on the reduction of inflation.
” Inflation today is at a region of 26/ 27 percent, we cannot contnue like that, it is not only a threat to household affordability but to business continuity. Businesses may collapse because they will not be able to make profit and not only that they may not be able to cover their cost.
“So it is a significant stride tat we are using this occasion as a pilot and this is in line with our new strategy of how we will address the constraints stopping us from delivering electricity to our people,” he said.
In his remarks, Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency said, “the successful completion of the Toto Mini-Grid project is a testament to the power of partnership and innovation in driving rural electrification in Nigeria. The REA
remains committed to fostering an environment which encourages similar sustainable and impactful projects nationwide.
PowerGen plans additional $100million for 100MW renewable energy by 2024
“The Toto Interconnected Mini-Grid is a first-of-its-kind in Nigeria, creatively developed by PowerGen Interconnected Energy Limited under the NEP Performance Based-Grant (PBG) program, and designed to provide reliable electricity to a total of 2,000 households and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the community.
“Over the years, we have optimized the NEP to strengthen the off-grid space while deploying over 100 mini-grids and powering over 5 million Nigerians. With the seamless implementation of this programme, we are confident in the model and positioned for an even wider impact across the nation.
” Just as we have witnessed many times, the availability of this energy access solution will have a transformative impact on the lives of the people of Toto Community as this intervention is designed to aid socio-economic development while creating opportunities for new and existing productive activities.
In his remarks, Christopher Ezeafulukwe, the Managing director of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company said that AEDC had received some support from the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to explore innovative business models that would amongst other things, augment grid supply with off-grid sources such as mini-grids.
Representing the MD, Olajumoke Delano, Head Regulatory and Government Relations said, “I am pleased that today has become a reality, as we are all gathered here to commission what We in Abuja Electricity Distribution Plc (AEDC), regard as a unique catalytic interconnected minigrid project; a project that was initiated in 2020 by AEDC to explore innovative ways to better serve our customers. The project was borne out of AEDC’s desire to provide more reliable electricity supply to underserved communities like Toto.
“We were quite excited when our partnership with PowerGen provided us the prospect of validating the Rural Interconnected Mini-Grid business model that had been developed through the generous support from USTDA and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).
“The choice of Toto Community in Nasarawa State for the pilot project was not difficult for us and our partners to make, given the economic potentials of the Community, which had been underserved,” he said.
Seun Edun, Powergen country director, explained that the mini-grid is a hybrid consisting of 352kWSolar PVs, 972kWh battery energy storage system and a 400kW backup diesel generator supplying electricity to over 2,000 residential and commercial customer connections and still increasing thereby improving the quality of lives of the about 14,000 people living in Toto community.
“Your excellencies, Honorable Minister Sir, I want to reiterate that PowerGen will continue to contribute in achieving the vision of the Federal Government of Nigeria to provide access to electricity to the over 85million unserved and many more underserved Nigerians.”
He also disclosed plans of the company to invest a further $100million to develop up to 100MW of Distributed Renewable Energy Systems across Nigeria between year 2024 and 2025.
“We hope and believe that this event today will mark the acceleration of distributed renewable energy systems to scale-up electricity access to all unserved and underserved communities in our dear nation,” he said.