Electricity Energy

‘I doubt ability of states to transmit, distribute electricity’

Former chair, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Sam Amadi, yesterday expressed doubt about the ability of states to generate and distribute electricity following the unbundling of the sector arising from the recent constitutional amendment that empowers states to make laws on electricity generation and distribution.
Arising from this development, the National Assembly enacted about 29 Bills from which President Muhammadu Buhari assented to 16, one of which moved power and electricity issues from the Exclusive to the Concurrent Legislative List that empowers states to be players in the energy sector.
Amadi, said on phone that state governments’ ability to participate in this sector is depended on the capacity of the states.
He said the constitution amendment was normal, saying that the states have not really reviewed the law.
His words: “It depends on what the law of the state says. If the states make laws to say they can do, they can change those things. Meanwhile, the problem is that nobody has sat down to review these laws and what they are saying.
” It is just an amendment to the constitution. It may not be used in the next 100 years. Which state can do transmission and distribution, he queried.
According to him, the amendment has only empowered the states to make laws to license people to produce electricity.
He noted that where the law conflicts with that of the Federal Government, it would be a call for legal interpretation.
He said: “It means that if a state chooses, it can make a law on those areas, but if it conflicts with federal law, federal law may override, depending on the issues.”
Called on phone to know whether electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) can no longer stop states from supplying power in their franchise areas, the former NERC boss said, their laws are to determine their operation except where there is overlapping, the Federal would prevail.
Amadi said: “So, what the constitution says is that the states can make laws to say person can be licensed, they can make laws to say person can generate 100Mw. “They can make laws so until they make that law if there is a conflict with the Federal law they go for legal interpretation.
“But what they are saying is for states to regulate electricity in their states as they like.”
Also responding to the question, Nigeria Consumer Protection Network (NCPN), Barrister Kunle Olubiyo, said the amendment was targeted at triggering competition in the electricity market.
According to him, the amended constitution has ended the monopoly which the operators had enjoyed in the industry.
Stressing that the practice is not new, he noted that NESCO and Jos Electricity Distribution Company have coexisted in the business for years.
“The monopoly hitherto enjoyed by the Market Players/ Market Participants in the upstream and downstream of the Electricity Sector Value Chain would now give way to an open market economy, with the attendant competition, customers satisfaction, free entrance and free exit .
“The development is not new.”
At the downstream , we have a perfectly functional model that has existing with the franchise area of coverage of Jos Electricity Distribution Company and NESCO that have coexisted for over for decades in Jos without much hassles nor conflicts,” he said.
Olubiyo was optimistic that the new regime would be to the benefit of the consumers with its inherent alternative.

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