TEC Gets Small Composite Micro Utility Permit

The Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission (LERC) over the weekend issued a Small Composite Micro Utility Permit to the Totota Electric Cooperative (TEC) to generate and distribute electricity without discrimination to customers within Totata City, in lower Bong County.  The duration of the permit is seven years.

LERC’s Chairman of the Board of Commissioners (BoC) Dr. Lawrence D. Sekajipo said the issuance of the Permit to TEC is considered a milestone for the Commission as it is the first Permit to be issued under the Micro Utility Licensing Regulations (MULR).

Dr. Sekajipo speaking at the ceremony told the Board and Management of TEC that “being issued a permit comes with additional responsibilities” as outlined in the terms and conditions of the permit issued by the Commission.

“We admonish you to abide by those terms and continue to cooperate with the LERC to ensure that the best service is provided to residents of Totota City at the lowest cost possible,” he averred. 

“LERC would like to send a clear and distinct message that Liberia is open for the critical investment required to cover the infrastructural deficit within the electricity sector. And as a Regulator, we are here to help the sector grow and become more efficient in delivering services to the citizens” Dr. Sekajipo told stakeholders, guests and locals at the ceremony.

Dr. Sekajipo called on development partners and the donor community working in Liberia to replicate the TEC model in other counties across Liberia where the National Grid has not arrived.

Mr. John Pasch, the Economic Growth Office Director at USAID Liberia also speaking at the ceremony said the licensing of TEC “demonstrates the transformative effect that a group of driven individuals, supported by their Community, can have on individual lives and economic opportunities”.

Mr. Pasch said the issuance of the permit to TEC represents a model for the future and signals for a better tomorrow for Liberia.

In response to the permit issuance, TEC board chairman Joseph G. Scott described the ceremony as a great day in the history of TEC and thanked USAID and the National Rural Electrification Cooperative Association (NRECA) for their support over the years.

Mr. Scott recounted how residents of Totota City struggled for reliable electricity for a very long period and it was through the intervention of USAID and NRECA International that brought relief to the community by providing a solar-diesel hybrid system which have transformed the livelihoods and improved the social economic growth of the city.

“The sustainability of an entity depends on customers and shareholders’ support among other things. We therefore acknowledge our customers’ cooperation, support and the regular purchase of power”, he said.  

For his part, Assistant Mines and Energy Minister William T. Thompson said the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) remains committed to ensure the survival of the Commission noting, “we will not let LERC die. It is our baby”.

Assistant Minister Thompson said MME as a policy body in the sector, it has adopted several medium range plans with the aid of development partners including the World Bank, African Development Bank to expand access to electricity across the country.

Speaking earlier, the Acting Managing Director Cllr. Minnie P. Kallon said the electricity sector reform has achieved major milestones beginning with the enactment of the 2015 Electricity Law of Liberia, the publication of three Electricity Licensing Instruments which consists of the Electricity Licensing Regulations for licensing operators in the Liberia interconnected grid systems, Micro Utility Licensing Regulations- for licensing mini grid and off grid systems under a simplified regime and the Electricity Licensing Handbook- a guide for assisting applicants in the application process, the approval of the Tariff Regulations and Multi Year Tariff Methodology- the framework for approving tariffs and other terms of supply, and the development of a Customer Service and Quality of Supply Regulations for which stakeholders’ comments are being solicited.

The ceremony was graced by Bong County Senator Prince Moye, Representative District 6 Moima Briggs Mensah, Assistant Mines and Energy Minister, William T. Thompson, Bong County Development Superintendent, the Lutheran Church among others.

The Totota Electric Cooperative has a total of 347 customers: 253 residential, 69 businesses, 4 schools, 3 clinics, and 18 others such as churches, mosques, offices etc. on the average, 87% of connected customers turn out every month to purchase electricity. The system operates for 19 hours daily, with an average load of 25kW and peak load of 59kW. TEC’s daily energy consumption is 500kWh.

In 2020, TEC operated for 6,556.9 hours out of schedule time 6,786.5 hours which is 96% reliability.

The Totota mini grid project, a solar-diesel hybrid plant has a capacity of 70KW each and was sponsored by the National Rural Electrification Cooperative Association (NRECA) in partnership with USAID.  The project was commissioned in March 2018 and turned over to TEC to manage in May 2018.