Geometric Power/Aba Power Limited promises it will light up Aba, the commercial hub of the South East region five months from now. The next two months will be used to resolve its outstanding financial obligations, while the remaining three months will be used for servicing the machines which have been idle since 2013 when the facilities were installed.
“Our power plant is done. Everything is ready. It is just to get the ring fence back, so that we can begin the process of commissioning. That is what is left. Anybody who has gone to Aba will see that the power plant is totally finished”, said chairman, Geometric Power/former Minister of Power, Professor Bath Nnaji, during the conference organised by the Association of Energy Correspondents of Nigeria (NAEC) held last week in Lagos.
During the 2013 power sector privatisation exercise by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) in what was described as an “administrative error”, the BPE did not take into consideration the pre-existing agreements on Aba ring-fence and thus, did not excise it from Enugu DISCO sphere. The ring fence remained part of Enugu DISCO acquired by Interstate Electrics.
“Right now, we are raising funds to pay back the money Interstate, which owns Enugu DISCO, used to buy Aba ring fence”, Nnaji said, adding that Geometric is going to pay back $26 million, even though Interstate actually paid $11 million for it.
Nnaji also lamented the huge cost his company is incurring as a result of the previous government’s lack of respect for sanctity of contract it entered into with the Federal Government.
“Our power plant which was completed in 2013 has been lying idle and for that reason, we will need to run some checks on the machines before commissioning. There is no place in the country where this can be done, so we will have to take back all the machines to the original manufacturers for the checks, after which they will give us necessary guarantees. This is going to cost millions of dollars”, Nnaji said.
It will be recalled that on May 11, 2004, the Federal Government, the now defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and Geometric Power Limited (GPL) entered into and executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under which GPL was granted the exclusive right to construct a 3 x 35 MW open cycle gas turbine power plant and designated sub-stations in Aba, Abia State, which would generate electric power for distribution by Aba Power Limited (APL) to residential and commercial customers and to industrial clusters in a ring-fenced island in Aba.
The government, NEPA and Aba Power Limited (APL) executed a lease agreement on April 28, 2005 for the distribution of power to the ring-renced residential and commercial consumers in Aba. By the terms of the agreement, NEPA assigned its right to distribute electric power in the ring-fenced area of Owerri-nta, Osisisioma, Ogbor Hill, Factory Road and Port Harcourt Road in Aba and also leased its distribution facilities within the contract area.
A supplementary agreement was made on August 31, 2006 between the Federal Government, represented by the minister of power and steel, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and Enugu Distribution Company (EDC) and Geometric Power Limited. EDC and TCN were substituted for NEPA, as parties to the lease agreement of 2005 and assumed their respective obligations.
The $500 million Geometric/Aba Power Plant has capacity to produce and distribute about 141 megawatts (MW) of electricity in its first phase, with new distribution lines, four new sub-stations and three rehabilitated sub-stations. Each plant is to produce 47 MW of power, supported by a 60 MVA per transformer. The power plant is to be powered by gas from Shell company flow station at Owaza in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State. The company has also laid a pipeline spanning 27 kilometers from the flow station to the power plant at Osisioma.