TCN’s ‘poor’ protection equipment to blame for system collapses – DisCos

The umbrella body of 10 power Distribution Companies (DisCos) have blamed the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN)’s “poor transmission network protection” for the nine grid system collapses recorded so far this year.

Sunday Oduntan, the spokesman for the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) on Wednesday, said the DisCos regretted the unfortunate accident that occurred on Sunday, 30th June, 2019, at the TCN substation in Benin City, leaving Nigeria in darkness for hours.

“The DisCos remain available to offer their technical assistance to TCN, to ensure that our valued customers do not remain in darkness,” ANED informed in a statement.

It said the failure of the TCN Benin Substation on Sunday was the second of such occurrence in the same city within a year. It reported the trend of burnt transmission stations and failed transmission substation incidents in Lagos, Calabar, Abuja, Enugu and Onitsha as at May 8, 2019, due to inadequate transmission protection mechanisms and procedures.

They also expressed displeasure over TCN’s practice of arbitrary load dumping on the DisCos whenever the TCN is having challenges managing energy on its grid, causing a myriad of commercial and technical problems.

The DisCos said these deficiencies of TCN were captured in a July 2017 System Adequacy Report published by the Independent System Operator, a section of TCN.

The body said a properly protected transmission system will isolate faults. “Unfortunately, the resultant effect is that we have experienced the ninth (9th) total black out in Nigeria this year (five times in January, once in April, twice in May and once in June), a rate of transmission failure that is in excess of one blackout per month – far beyond any international standard,” it said.

It reported further that over 100 partial and total transmission system collapses have been recorded since the sector privatisation in 2013. “This magnitude of system collapses should not be a regular reality of our country,” it added.

The DisCos advised that rather than trading blames, TCN should focus on realising actual delivery of its acclaimed 8100MW wheeling capacity as the current figure “is based on nothing more than a computer simulation.”

It urged the public firm to address its radial transmission network for better power delivery, procure the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) to monitor the grid and trace system collapse faults.

Quoting TCN MD, Usman Gur Mohammed in a 2018 presentation, ANED said: “If we have a functional SCADA system, it will show clearly what happened on the grid, and that is why we in TCN, deployment of SCADA is not an option, we have to deploy it.

“Nigeria has failed attempts to have a functional SCADA three times. The last one was between 2006 and 2007, I was in the Project Management Unit (PMU) of TCN when the World Bank financed it and Nigeria spent about $46 million. But the SCADA that was completed had significant deficiencies that it cannot see more than 40 per cent of the network.”

On the 4.3 billion dollar investment TCN said tbe DisCos need, ANED said the11 DisCos are regulated entities and not allowed to invest more than $150 million per year or $13.6 million per DisCo annually.

Although a recent French Development Agency (AFD) report says the DisCos need 181 million dollar funding annually to improve the networks, ANED said: “However, this cannot happen unless such related funding is allowed in the regulatory framework.”

They are hopeful that once their five year Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) are approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the DisCos could get better regulatory framework that will allow the sector to improve.

“We believe that it is only when all NESI’s stakeholders decide to work together that we will be able to anticipate and solve these unfortunate events,” it noted.



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