On the 17th of August 2022, many Nigerian cities reported a total electricity blackout. In 2022, this development must not have come as a surprise to many Nigerians as there have been repeated nationwide power outages as the national electricity grid has collapsed at least six (6) times in 2022. What may however come as a surprise to Nigerians is that the blackout of 17th August was not caused by a national grid collapse, but as a result of a strike action by the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE). Its members who were working in the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), were directed to shut down its operations chiefly in response to a directive issued by the TCN that certain officers in line to be promoted must first appear for a promotion interview.
The TCN has also been at the heart of the previous electricity outages caused by the collapse of the national grid as they are the organization in charge of maintenance of the national grid.
This article aims to address significant concerns on the implications of the TCN while identifying its role in the supply of electricity in Nigeria.
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) is the sole governmental organization charged primarily with the transmission of electricity in Nigeria, which is a key segment of the Nigerian Electricity supply chain which runs from the generation of electricity to transmission, and then distribution to the end users/consumers. Transmission of electricity involves the movement in bulk of electricity from large-scale generation sites or power plants, usually over long distances to the point of distribution where it is then transformed and distributed to the consumers and end users.
The Transmission of Electricity is important, as electricity generated from large-scale generation sites is usually generated at electrical levels ranging from 11 to 33kv (kilovolts), which has to be stepped up via a transformer to levels ranging between 100kv to 700kv, in order to enable it to travel long distances efficiently without transmission power loss, and then stepped down via a transformer when it reaches the distribution point for further transmission to end users.
It is therefore the link between generation of electricity and distribution to end users. This electricity transmission is usually done through a dedicated transmission network. In Nigeria, electricity transmission is done by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) through the national transmission grid infrastructure which consists of high voltage transmission substations which step up the electricity produced from the large-scale generation sites at about 16kv to 330kv and then steps it down at the distribution point to 132kv.
HISTORY OF THE TRANSMISSION COMPANY OF THE NIGERIA
The Nigerian Electricity and Power Sector was in dire straits post-independence particularly in 1999, during the newly elected civilian administration, as an estimated 90million people did not have access to electricity and industry losses were believed to be more than 50%. Public confidence in the Nigerian power sector had all but diminished and it became abundantly clear that the cross of the now defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) who was saddled with the production, transmission and distribution of electricity throughout Nigeria had become too heavy for it to bear efficiently and thus, in order to alleviate this burden and make for a better and more efficient power sector, the now defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was established in 2005, in line with the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) with a view to the diversification and privatisation of the Power Sector in Various Generation and Distribution Companies. Also, a transmission Company which was to be fully owned by the Federal Government, and gave birth to the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) which was incorporated in November 2005, with an Operations License and was issued a Transmission license in July 2006. It was subsequently issued licenses as a Transmission Service Provider and a System Operator in June 2013.