REA urges states to invest in power

REA urges states to invest in power

The Federal Government has appealed to state governments to be proactive by investing in power to provide their citizens’ homes and places of work with adequate electricity supply.

The Rural Electrification Agency Board member representing Southwest, Michael Oluwagbemi, urged states to collaborate with private companies and investors in the power sector for power development, saying such would as well enhance their economy.

Oluwagbemi, who spoke in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, on Monday, said that REA in the last one year had recorded remarkable achievement in its area of core mandates of ensuring access to electrification in rural areas and renewal energy in the country.

He said that apart from collaboration with private companies in the power sector, the agency had installed thousands of solar-powered street lights in many states of the federation, including Ekiti State.

He said, “Universal access to power by people especially those in the rural areas is our major concern in REA, because it is not about getting people connected to the grid, but getting the power to our homes, that is our mandate to the people”.

Oluwagbemi charged Southwest governors to explore such collaboration with private investors to improve the economy of their states instead of expending huge funds on intangible projects, saying power was in the concurrent list.

He said, “State governments also have right to build mini-grid power for their people. Our governors in the Southwest should collaborate with private companies to set up power development companies to improve access to power for our people,” he said, advising that such grid should be extended to areas that don’t have grid.

He said, “Many states in the North are taking advantage of this and I will want our states here in the Southwest to follow suit. We should stop complaining to the Federal Government that has just about 15 per cent in the entire power sector deals; our governors should step up and be proactive because most of the challenges we are having relating to electricity can be addressed with right policies and political will by state governors”.

Oluwagbemi, who said REA had continues to advance the cause of rural energy access while implementing the renewable energy mandate, said, “The Southwest which I represent has benefitted immensely from these initiatives with almost 100 MW of grid impact projects and 160km of streetlights installed.

“Specifically in Ekiti State, we attracted several marquee projects including solar street lights systems in Igede Ekiti,  Ikole Ekiti, Ado Ekiti, Odo Oro Ekiti and Ikere Ekiti. Stand-alone home systems for commercial and residential users under the Poverty Eradication Intervention initiative of the FGN is currently ongoing”.

Oluwagbemi, who condemned the estimated billing system by the power distribution companies, said, “It should not be allowed and I believe Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission should do the enforcement.

“Your job is to sell power and you can’t provide the basic equipment needed to measure what you are selling to me? It is just business of ripping off, nothing else”.

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