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Vandalism worsens grid collapse as gas shortage slashes power supply

Nigeria witnessed its sixth power grid collapse of 2024 on Monday, as electricity generation on the system collapsed from 2,583.77 megawatts at 2 am to 64.7MW around 3am before the grid was restored later in the day.

Although the Transmission Company of Nigeria attributed the cause of Monday’s grid collapse to a fire incident, it had consistently blamed gas shortage for power generation and the vandalism of power infrastructure for the recurrent cases of grid collapse in Nigeria.

Nigeria generates an average of 4,000MW of electricity for an estimated 200 million citizens across the country.

But this is hardly sustainable, as the grid continues to record incessant collapse due to gas supply constraints, transmission infrastructure vandalism, and liquidity crisis, among others.

Data from the Independent System Operator, an arm of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, showed that only one electricity generation company, Ibom Power, was active at the time of the grid collapse on Monday morning.

Power generation on the grid crashed further to 44.5MW around 4 am, before rising to 132.29MW an hour later.

The grid collapse was confirmed by Jos Electricity Distribution Company. The Head, Corporate Affairs, JEDC, Dr Friday Elijah, in a notice to customers, said, “The current outage being experienced within our franchise states is a result of loss of power supply from the national grid.

“The loss of power supply from the national grid occurred in the early hours at about 0242 hours of today, Monday, April 15, 2024, hence the loss of power supply on all our feeders.”

Elijah, however, expressed hope that the grid would be restored for normal power supply to electricity consumers.

Also on Monday, economic activities in the South-East were grounded as the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company Plc announced a total system collapse in its network.

EEDC’s Head, Corporate Communications, Emeka Ezeh, who announced this in a statement titled: “Notice Of Total System Collapse,” said the system collapse occurred at 2:41 am on April 15, 2024.

Ezeh, however, appealed to the company’s customers in the five states of the South-East for understanding, while waiting for the Transmission Company of Nigeria to restore power supply.

“The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company Plc wishes to inform her esteemed customers of a total system collapse which occurred at 2:41 am today, April 15, 2024,” Ezeh said in the statement.

“This resulted in the loss of supply to all our interface TCN stations. Consequently, we were unable to provide service to our customers in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo states.

“However, the situation is gradually being resolved as we received the supply at Awada TCN station, Onitsha, at 7:30 am.

“We are in constant communication with the relevant authorities awaiting the full restoration of supply by the National Control Centre, Oshogbo. Thank you for your usual understanding and cooperation,” the statement noted.

On February 5, 2024, The PUNCH reported that power generation on the national grid crashed to 59.9MW around noon on February 4, 2024, as the country’s grid witnessed a nationwide collapse.

The report stated that data obtained from the Federal Ministry of Power showed that electricity generation on the grid plunged from 2,658.75MW at 11 am to 59.9MW by noon on February 4, 2024, as power distributors lost supply from the grid.

This led to widespread blackouts across the country, as power distribution companies blamed it on the collapse of the grid managed by the Transmission Company of Nigeria, an agency of the Federal Government.

TCN reacts

Reacting to the development, the TCN announced the full restoration of the national grid later in the day, stating that the system collapse was due to a fire incident at the Afam power generating station.

TCN, in a statement issued in Abuja by its spokesperson, Ndidi Mbah, said the fire incident caused a partial disturbance of the nation’s grid.

“At 02:41 hours today, April 15, 2024, a fire erupted at the Afam V 330kV busbar coupler, leading to the tripping of units at Afam III and Afam VI. This resulted in a sudden generation loss of 25MW and 305MW, destabilising the grid and causing a partial collapse.

“During the incident, the Ibom Power plant was isolated from the grid and was supplying parts of the Port Harcourt region. This further minimised the effect of the system disturbance. TCN confirms that the affected section of the grid has been fully restored and stabilised.

“TCN reaffirms its commitment to enhancing the resilience and reliability of the national grid and pledges to continue investing in measures aimed at strengthening the grid infrastructure,” Mbah stated.

Grid collapse incidents

The collapse of Nigeria’s power grid is now a recurrent phenomenon, as the system has remained unstable, leading to incessant cases of grid collapse.

On March 29, 2024, The PUNCH reported that power generation on the national grid crashed from 2,984MW around 4 pm on March 28, 2024, to 0MW at 5 pm the same day, according to figures on the country’s grid performance released by TCN.

As a result of the collapse of the national grid at the time, the entire country was thrown into a blackout, leaving millions of homes and businesses without power.

The report stated that power generation on the grid could not be restored, as only 76.7MW and 95MW were on the system around 6 pm and 7 pm on the day of the incident.

This moved up marginally to 283MW around 8 pm, but millions of Nigerians were still in darkness at the time, as the country’s average power generation and supply for over 200 million people in Nigeria is around 4,000MW.

The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company had in a notice to its customers during the March incident stated that, “please be informed that the current power outage is due to a system failure from the national grid.

 “The system collapsed at about 16:28 hours today, March 28 2024, causing the outage currently experienced across our franchise area. We appeal for your understanding as all stakeholders are working hard to restore normal supply.”

Providing reasons for this particular grid collapse, Mbah had said, “According to a report from the National Control Centre (NCC) in Osogbo, the system disturbance was triggered by a significant reduction in generation capacity, primarily due to gas constraints.”

Also, on February 4, 2024, The PUNCH reported that power generation on the national grid crashed to 0MW around 1 pm that day as the country’s grid witnessed a collapse.

The report stated that data obtained from the power ministry showed that electricity generation on the grid dropped from 2,407MW around 11.53 am to 31MW by noon on that Sunday, before collapsing to 0MW an hour later.

Again this led to widespread blackouts across the country, as power distribution companies blamed it on the collapse of the grid managed by TCN.

Recurrent vandalism

On February 28, 2024, TCN announced that vandals destroyed Tower 70 along its 330kV Gwagwalade-Katampe Transmission line in Abuja, making it the third transmission tower to be vandalised by vandals within five days, as blackout worsened across the country.

Mbah had said in a statement issued in Abuja that “TCN states that Tower 70 along its 330kV Gwagwalade -Katampe Transmission line has been vandalised with the tower standing precariously on the ground.

“The sad incident occurred on February 26, 2024, at about 11.32 pm.  At the said time, the Gwagwalada – Katampe Transmission line tripped at Gwagwalada Transmission Substation and trial reclosure by TCN operators failed, necessitating a physical patrol of the line.

“The TCN lines and patrol team discovered that the four tower footings of Tower 70  were vandalised, destroying the tower legs and causing the tower to stand on the ground, supported by conductors. The incident has reduced bulk power supply flexibility and the volume of power into Abuja by 250 megawatts.”

Meanwhile, TCN stated at the time that it mobilised engineers to the site of the incident and carried out emergency repairs of the damaged tower and its associated equipment.

“We reiterate the need for vigilance in the fight against vandalism of power equipment. It is important that we report suspicious movements around all power equipment to security operatives or the nearest TCN offices nationwide,” it stated.

Earlier, TCN reported that power generation on the national grid dropped by five megawatts following the vandalism of two electricity transmission towers along the Gombe – Damaturu 330kV transmission line.

Although the company said its engineers had been deployed to fix the towers, it condemned the act, describing it as a recurrent sabotage perpetuated on the country’s power transmission towers.


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