National Power Grid Collapses Twice in 6 Hours, Sparking Outrage

Nigeria’s national power grid collapsed twice in less than six hours on Thursday, plunging the entire country into darkness. The latest collapse came just two weeks after the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) celebrated 400 days of stable or incident-free operations.

Data from the National System Operator (NSO) showed that the grid collapsed around 12:35 am and then again around 6:40 am. Power generation dropped by 93.5% to 273 megawatts, according to the NSO.

The collapse of the power grid has caused widespread disruption across Nigeria. Businesses and homes were left without power for several hours, and some hospitals were forced to suspend operations.

The Federal Government has promised to end constant power grid instability, but the latest collapse raises questions about the government’s ability to deliver on this promise.

The TCN blamed the collapse on a fire incident on the Kainji/Jebba 330KV Line 2. The incident is being investigated, the TCN said, with “the view to forestalling future occurrence and invariably further strengthening the grid.”

A statement by TCN General Manager, Public Affairs, Ndidi Mbah, stated that “grid restoration nationwide is in progress and has reached advanced stages, with power supply now available in the West, North-Central, South, East, and a large portion of the northern parts of the country.

“The power supply restoration is sequel to the total grid collapse, which occurred at about 12.35 am, this morning (yesterday), causing outages nationwide, after over 421 days of consistent grid stability.

“In the course of grid restoration, the process initially suffered a setback; this does not amount to another collapse. In the course of any grid restoration process, challenges may be encountered. This happened today while the grid restoration was in progress, but it was promptly addressed”.

Reacting to the incident via his X (formerly Twitter) handle, the Minister of Power, Bayo Adelabu, said: “At 00:35Hrs this morning, Fire outbreak with explosion sound was observed on Kainji/Jebba 330KV Line 2 (Cct K2J) blue phase CVT & Blue phase line Isolator of Kainji/Jebba 330KV Line1 was observed burning. This led to sharp drops in frequency from 50.29Hz to 49.67 Hz at 0:35:06Hrs with Jebba generation loss of 356.63MW.”

Another government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “The grid has been very unstable for days before the latest system collapse. As we speak, there is a blackout.”

While notifying customers about the outage, DisCos blamed the countrywide blackout on the national grid collapse.

Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC in a statement by its Head, Corporate Communications, Emeka Ezeh, stated that “a total system collapse occurred at 12:40am today (yesterday), September 14, 2023. This has resulted in the loss of supply currently being experienced across the network.

“Due to this development, all our interface TCN stations are out of supply, and we are unable to provide service to our customers in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states.”

Similarly, Eko DisCo, stated: “Kindly be informed that a system collapse occurred yesterday at 6:41 a.m. This has resulted in a total loss of supply across our network. We are in continuous communication with our partners at the National Control Centre, NCC, Osogbo. You will be updated as we get more information.”

Also, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, AEDC, reported the collapse, stating: “The management of AEDC wishes to inform its customers that the power outage currently being experienced is a result of a system failure from the national grid in the early hours of today, 14 September 2023.

“Be rest assured that we are working with the relevant stakeholders to restore power as soon as the grid is stabilized.’’

In response to the recent development, Engr. Ifeoluwa Oyedele, the Executive Director of Networks with Niger Delta Power Holding Company, emphasized the urgent need for the sector to obtain the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.

Oyedele said: “The national grid is too large geographically. A SCADA System is an absolute must for the efficient operation of the transmission network. For the SCADA to function seamlessly, it must not be encumbered for any other purpose as this may further complicate the SCADA project.

“There is an urgent need to improve the distribution networks which are decayed and contribute significantly to system collapse.”