Parliament Holds Crunch Meeting …With Power Producers, Distributors
By Stephen Odoi-Larbi & Fatima Adam
It appears officials at the helm of the country’s power supply are not certain about the security of electricity supply in the future, although they have promised to end the current load shedding exercise by April this year, if they get all their projections right.
Parliament, troubled by the current exercise, yesterday held a crunch meeting with officials of the Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), and the Energy Commission, through its subcommittee on Mines and Energy, chaired by Dr. Kwabena Donkor.
The supposed meeting was to get firsthand information about the basis of the load shedding, and the plans the various providers within the power supply had put in place to address its reccurrence.
GRIDCO, the institution that transmits power to the Electricity Company of Ghana, in response to the invitation, told the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy that the country’s power system was largely beset with a huge power supply deficit situation, as a result of the unavailability of several generating plants – Sunon Asogli Power Plant, MRP and TT2PP (ST50GS); Delayed commissioning into operation of new generating facilities expected to inject additional capacity on the NITS, as well as growth in system demand.
This, according to officials of the service provider, had necessitated the load management exercise.
According to the utility provider, total available capacity at peak stands at 1,634MW against the country’s Peak Demand of 1,765MW, and a projected Peak Demand of 1,900MW+ for 2013.
Available records from the VRA indicated that disruption in gas supply from Nigeria, resulting from the damage to the West Africa Gas Pipeline, caused a generation deficit of about 200MW, thereby, necessitating the frequent load shedding exercise, since April, 2012.
According to officials of the VRA, planned maintenance and forced outages aggravated the situation.
The told the Committee on Mines and Energy, whose Ranking Member is K. T. Hammond, that even prior to the damage of the gas pipeline, the reserve margin was inadequate, resulting in intermittent load shedding in the event of the planned or unplanned outage of a major unit.
Available data from the corridors of the VRA indicates that from January to March 4, 2013, the country has shed a maximum of 460MW of load. Much as the situation is costing most businesses in the country, the VRA has had its fair share of the cost.
Records indicate that the VRA spends US$3 million a day to run its thermal plants using Light Crude Oil (LCO), twice the cost of using natural gas.
Short term plans put in place to address the situation, the VRA noted, include 400MW from the Bui Power Project. One unit, 133.3MW of the overall MW, is expected to come on online in April, this year, whereas the full generating capacity would be available by end of the year.
In addition to that, 200MW is expected to be generated from the Sunon-Asogli Plant to operate on gas from May 2013 when the West Africa Gas Pipeline is available, as well as 132MW from the completed T3 project.
In 2025, the VRA is expected to generate a little above 5,500MW to meet the supply demands of the country.
However, available records indicate that the country is in a firm position to meet demand in the medium term, as 230MW of power is expected to be generated from the Kpone Thermal Power Plant in 2014, in addition to the 110MW T2 expected to be online in 2015, as well as
172MW T3 in 2016.
That of the 450MW Domunli Combine Cycle Thermal Plant is awaiting approval from the Central Tender Board for a detailed feasibility study to be carried out, and it is not clear when that project would commence and be completed.
About 200MW of power generation from Solar, Multi Purpose Hydro and Wind power projects are expected to come online between now to 2015.
However, the completion of the said projects would not be enough to address the power demand, as projected by the VRA in 2025.
Dr. Kwabena Donkor, briefing journalists after his committee’s engagement with the various providers in the power sector, said though Parliament has had the assurance of an end to the power crisis by April this year, that of the security of supply in the future is in the balance.
He said it would be premature to say that the country would not experience the load shedding exercise again, despite the assurance given by the service providers.
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