July 10, 2024

Reps Urge FGN to Build Mini Solar Grids For Varsities, Hospitals

The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to ensure the provision of alternative power sources such as mini solar grids for teaching hospitals, medical centres, and universities due to frequent power outages nationwide.

Unaffordable Electricity Bills Resulting from the New Electricity Tariff

The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to provide alternative power sources to teaching hospitals, medical centres, and universities due to the country's unreliable electricity supply. During Tuesday's plenary session, this resolution followed a motion by Mr Bamidele Salam, representing Ede North/Ede South/Egbedero Federal Constituency in Osun State.

The House emphasized the urgent need for the federal government to support these institutions with mini solar grids to mitigate the high and unaffordable electricity bills resulting from the new electricity tariff. The motion highlighted the necessity of alternative power generation to prevent loss of lives and service disruptions in these critical facilities.

Salam noted that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) began implementing a new electricity tariff for Band A customers, increasing it from N68 per kilowatt-hour to N225/kWh, a 240 percent rise. He also mentioned that although the House had urged NERC to halt the new tariff, the commission only reduced it slightly to 206.8/kWh, still a 202 percent increase. Despite this directive, some distribution companies raised the Band A tariff to 209.5/kWh, resulting in over a 207 percent hike.

Protests in Universities Over Electricity Crisis

He stated that Teaching Hospitals, Medical Centres, and Universities fall under Band A because they must consistently power medical equipment and perform necessary procedures to keep patients alive and provide critical services. He emphasized that the tariff increase is significant and unaffordable for these institutions, necessitating a sustainable and affordable alternative.

Salam, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, mentioned that before the new tariff regime, the University College Hospital in Ibadan owed the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) N495 million and had its power cut off. He added that Prof. Yakubu Ochefu, Secretary to the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, recently warned that federal universities might collapse if the Federal Government does not address the challenges of the new electricity tariff, as the high overhead costs could cripple their operations.

On July 4, 2024, the University of Benin halted academic activities indefinitely following prolonged student protests over the school's inability to provide electricity. The next day, medical students at the University of Lagos protested, highlighting the impact of the new tariff on water and electricity supply in their hostels.

Mini-Solar Grids: A More Cost-Effective Alternative

Salam cautioned that without urgent intervention to mitigate the impact of the new electricity tariff on Teaching Hospitals, Medical Centres, and Universities, Nigeria's health and education sectors could face collapse, endangering citizens' lives.

"If urgent measures are not taken to alleviate the burden of the new electricity tariff on Teaching Hospitals, Medical Centres, and Universities in Nigeria, the entire health and education sectors may collapse," warned Salam, "thus endangering the lives of our citizens.”

He highlighted that mini-solar grids present a cleaner and more cost-effective alternative to traditional hydroelectric power. These small-scale generators and energy storage systems can independently supply localized power, separate from the national grid.

"This innovative and sustainable energy solution is already in use at hospitals like Sutter Amador Hospital in Jackson, California, and CentraState Medical Center in Highland, Florida, which are powered by mini solar grids,” the PDP lawmaker said. "In 2023, the Rural Electrification Agency deployed 103 mini-grids across Nigeria through the Performance-Based Grant (PBG), a subcomponent of the Nigerian Electrification Project (NEP) funded by the World Bank.”

After the motion was adopted, the House called on the Federal Government to develop strategies for assisting teaching hospitals, medical centres, and universities with mini solar grids, addressing the substantial and unsustainable electricity costs caused by the new tariff. This move is crucial to safeguarding healthcare and education services across Nigeria amidst ongoing concerns over escalating costs and service disruptions.

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