The Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission (LERC) has issued six different licenses to Liberia Electricity Corporation after the state power operator had met its license criteria.
The licenses issued are intended to control the flow of power and energy on Liberia’s Interconnected Transmission System (LITS); as well as the transmission for operating the high voltage networks.
Processing of licenses was done in agreement with the statutory body created by the 2015 Electricity Law of Liberia (ELL) to oversee and regulate the electricity sector. The act began operation in 2018.
The LERC is the lead entity in Liberia responsible to facilitate the transformation and development of the electricity sector to attract investment, improve availability and adequacy as well as quicken the pace of access to electricity in a liberalized sector.
Its mission is to maintain a conductive electricity regulatory environment attractive to private sector investment, while the vision is to harness the best talents in the pursuit of an excellent regulator driven by transparency, accountability and good governance.
Speaking at the licensing ceremony on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at the head office of LERC, Dr. Lawrence D. Sekajipo, the Chairman of LERC, said that in September 2020, the institution completed and published the Electricity Licensing Instruments which consist of the Electricity Licensing Regulations, Micro Utility Licensing Regulations, and the Licensing Handbook, all issued under its role making powers consistent with the 2015 Electricity Law of Liberia.
Dr. Sekajipo added that the instruments provide the framework for licensing operators within the interconnected national grid network and operators of mini-grid and off-grid systems, and standalone systems respectively.
He said the Licensing Handbook is a guide on the Regulations for applicants. He further added that “the 2015 Electricity Law of Liberia and the Regulation” allows that an entity may engage in more than one Electricity Supply Industry (ESI) activity; however, an entity must obtain a license for each of the distinct activities for which a license is required.
Dr. Sekajipo said LEC is required by law to obtain a license for all aspects of its operations, and has duly complied by completing the license application processes.
He named generation licensing which is for existing hydro and thermal plants, transmission for operating the high voltage networks, distribution for operating the low voltage networks, system operation for the independent coordination and control of flow of power & energy on Liberia’s Interconnected Transmission System(LITS), and the input for importing electricity through existing cross border lines.
“While the attention of the world is riveted on these developments in Liberia’s electricity supply industry, the expectations of Liberians with respect to accessing reliable, affordable, and stable electricity is high,” Sekajipo said.
Dr. Sekajipo said that the LERC is opened for the critical investment required to cover the infrastructural deficit within the electricity sector, revealing that the Commission is currently developing the Tariff Regulations and the technical codes which he says will further define the rules for ensuring smooth operation and the sustainability of sector.
As he thanked the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Millennium Challenge Account Liberia, and European Union (EU) Delegation among others for their support to ensure the sustainability of LERC, Dr. Sekajipo added that LERC needs uninterrupted funding to implement its operations.
Madam Stefania Marrone, representing the European Union (EU) delegation to Liberia, described the first licensing ceremony and certification of a private operator producing, transmitting and distributing energy as a millstone for the energy sector of Liberia.
Emphasizing the benefits that electricity brings to economic growth, Madam Marrone said it promotes social and human development for women who have access to a better quality of life, for children who can benefit from electricity to complete their education, and improves security.
Madam Marrone said that the EU has used US$63 million to finance the Monrovia Consolidation Electricity, a government of Liberia program to provide sustainable and stable electricity to all citizens.
She added that the EU believes the expansion of the electricity sector must be affordable, adding that for this to become true, a solid private sector is necessary.
Also, in a proxy response, Prish Govender, Chief Operation Officer of LEC, said that LEC over the last three years has experienced growth in terms of customers in the energy sectors. He attributed the growth in customers-based operations to the support of the transmitter and distribution system, and the generation space of the Mt. Coffee hydro power station, and the Bushrood power station.
As Govender requested international contribution, he said the growth looks positive for the future and is done through government investment.
He named commercial losses and the constraints in connecting all consumers as some major challenges that affect the financial sustainability of LEC. He expressed that the future remains very positive with the support of the Liberian government and the support of consumer base in spite of the existing challenges.
Monie Captan, CEO of Millennium Challenge Account-Liberia, said that the electricity law of 2015 was a precedent for the compact to enter into force that would enable Liberia to benefit from a US$257million grant to invest in the energy sector.
He said after the economic constraints analysis was conducted, it was established that the lack of electricity was one of the constraints to economic growth for Liberian businesses.
Captan added that the law enables a level playing field for private investors in the energy sectors because LEC cannot address all of the electricity sectors, especially as the country grows in population.