The Benin Electricity and Distribution Company (BEDC), has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mountain Institute (RMI), Colorado, U.S.A and Rubitec Nigeria Limited to boost electricity supply to rural communities.
The MoU would ensure deployment of Mini-grid electricity in its franchise area as a bold step to connect rural communities without electricity supply.
The tripartite MoU was signed by the Managing Director, BEDC, Funke Osibodu, Rubitec boss, MBolade Soremekun and RMI Manager, James Sherwood.
Osibodu said it was part of the move by BEDC to boost power availability to customers in rural communities within its franchise area of Edo, Delta Ekiti and Ondo.
She said based on this, BEDC was expected to facilitate the choosing of locations for mini-grid solar power.
The BEDC boss said while Rubitec would construct solar mini-grid facilities, RMI would provide expertise in developing renewable electrical solutions and advise 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 at the partners based on their pedigree, she said the mini-grid initiative was also necessitated by the need to reduce dependency for power supply to customers through the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Osibodu said one community in Edo 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 BEDC distribution lines in the selected locations to distribute solar power to the residents in the communities “who are also expected to sign contract agreement with the suppliers.
“The agreement will 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’’.
On his part, the Rubitec boss, Soremekun, said, “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’’.
Similarly, RMI’s Sherwood said it was an opportunity to test a new model for delivering clean, reliable, and affordable power to customers.
He said that this would build on the mini-grid implementation work already being done by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and others across Nigeria.
Sherwood further said this could directly support developments of local economies and also provide an insight that would benefit the entire industry.