Anxious P’Harcourt Disco fears FG’s university power scheme would cut its income

Fears that the ‘energizing education’ program initiated by the federal government to power 37 of its universities and teaching hospitals using solar and gas, may cut the revenue of the 11 electricity distribution companies has been revealed by the Port Harcourt Disco.

The Disco which has a distribution franchise covering Rivers; Bayelsa; Cross River; and Akwa Ibom, said it was worried the program would end its supply of electricity and revenue collection from beneficiary federal universities and teaching hospitals within its network.

Its chief operating officer, Mr. Kingsley Achife, stated this at the 14th edition of the monthly power sector operators’ meeting in Enugu. His fears about the program were expressed in the final communique of the meeting which was obtained by OGN.

“On the plan by the federal government to electrify tertiary institutions in the country using solar energy resources, he (Achife) noted that the plan may potentially affect the Discos’ revenue generation efficiency as most of the tertiary institutions are located in their confines,” said the communique.

No competition with Discos

But addressing Achife’s fears, and perhaps that of other Discos, the minister of power, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, explained the government was not in competition with the Discos for supply of electricity to consumers, and was only doing what it considers good to improve the efficiency of its universities and health facilities.

According to the communique: “The chairman (Fashola) clarified that government was not in competition with any Discos and that the declaration of eligible customers was to provide healthy competition and to provide opportunities for customers who are willing to pay more for reliable services.

“He stated that the plan to electrify tertiary institutions in the country with solar energy resources was part of the federal government’s commitment to the incremental power initiatives. He admonished the Discos and TCN to be transparent in their businesses.”

Spot on, scheme shops for 87.6 megawatts for varsities, hospitals

In setting up the scheme, the government explained that adequate supply of electric power has repeatedly been cited as a major challenge and barrier to effective learning in its universities.

It noted that students in the schools have had limited access to powered technical labs; internet connection and online resources; as well as high powered learning equipment.

The government then facilitated the provision of dedicated and uninterrupted power supply to its schools and hospitals to address these issues. It called it Energizing Education Programme.

Circa 87.6 megawatts of power would then be generated and supplied to 37 federal universities and 7 university teaching hospitals across the country, in addition to the provision of street lighting to promote and facilitate safe, secure and productive learning environments.

Under the program, the government said it would also develop and operate training centers to train university students, towards jumpstarting a cycle of in-campus self-sufficiency and renewable energy technology innovations.

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