The Benin Electricity Distribution Company Plc has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a United States firm, Rocky Mountain Institute, and Rubitec Nigeria Limited to provide mini-grid electricity for customers.
The power firm, in a statement on Friday, described the initiative as a bold step towards connecting communities in its franchise states without electricity supply.
It said the tripartite MoU was agreed by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, BEDC, Mrs Funke Osibodu; Rubitec CEO, Mr Bolade Soremekun, and RMI Manager, Mr James Sherwood, at the BEDC head office in Benin on Wednesday.
According to the statement, the BEDC is expected to facilitate the choice of location for mini-grid solar power; Rubitec is expected to construct solar mini-grid facilities within the BEDC’s licensed area of coverage, while RMI will provide expertise in developing renewable electrical solutions and advise on the implementation of a pilot mini-grid in the chosen location.
Osibodu said the initiative was aimed at bridging the service gaps for areas within the company’s network, with an existing but poorly supplied or non-functional distribution system, or those without an existing distribution system.
While expressing delight with the partners based on their pedigree, she stated that the mini-grid initiative was also necessary to reduce the dependence on the Transmission Company of Nigeria for power supply to customers.
Osibodu said one community in Edo State would be used as a pilot for the project before it would be extended to other locations.
According to her, the project will entail an interconnected mini-grid, using the BEDC distribution lines in the selected locations to distribute solar power to the residents in the communities, who are also expected to sign contract agreements with the suppliers.
She said the agreement would be completed after the joint visitation by a combined team of BEDC staff and officials of the partnering firms to assess the situation on ground at the locations and determine the feasibility and commencement date of the project.
Soremekun, on his part, stated, “Rubitec is very happy to sign this MoU to partner BEDC and RMI to bring solar mini-grid electricity to communities within the franchise area, who are un-served or underserved.
“Collectively, Rubitec and our partners are proud to execute the pilot project to provide more knowledge and insight to the interconnected mini-grid space so as to enable more rapid scaling of the concept and model all over Nigeria.”
On his part, Sherwood said RMI was excited to support the BEDC and Rubitec in the effort, adding that the firm “sees this as a tremendous opportunity to test a new model for delivering clean, reliable, and affordable power to customers.”
“This will build on the mini-grid implementation work already being done by the Rural Electrification Agency and others across Nigeria, and can directly support the development of local economies, while providing insight that will benefit the entire industry,” he added.
According to the statement, while Edo State is the pilot take-off point, other proposed and feasible locations are being explored for pilot take-off in Ondo, Delta and Ekiti states, which are within the BEDC franchise areas.