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General News of Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Consumers to face more power outages

An official in the energy sector says players in the sector are working around the clock to stabilise the energy situation in the country.

According to him, the current load-shedding involving between 350 and 400 megawatts (MW) was caused by erratic gas supply from Nigeria and the shutdown of some machines for regular maintenance works.

The Chief Executive of the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo), Mr William Amuna, said this in an interview with the Daily Graphic in response to questions raised about the intermittent power outages in some parts of the country during the weekend.

He said officials in the sector were hopeful that gas from Atuabo would come on stream as soon as possible to power thermal generators, including the Aboadze Thermal Plant.

“We expect Atuabo Gas to come on stream any moment from now and we are trying to get more generators to stabilise the situation,” he said.

Although the country is already undergoing load-shedding, the situation worsened during the weekend when some parts of the country had erratic blackouts.

Irritated residents of some suburbs of Accra went on the rampage, blocking roads and destroying property owned by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) over the persistent power cuts in their vicinities.

Residents of Lapaz-Tabora blocked roads and destroyed property at the Kwashieman Power Station of the ECG.

They reportedly destroyed a Polytank-branded water tank and also nearly assaulted the security man at the station.

At Odorkor, there were reports of angry residents hitting the road in protest against the persistent power cuts. They were said to have blocked the major Kaneshie–Odorkor road.

According to Mr Amuna, the country needed about 120 million standard cubic feet (scf) of gas to power the generators to produce power. However, currently the volumes had dwindled, leading to the shutdown of some machines.

He also indicated that some of the machines were down for regular scheduled maintenance works and were expected to come on stream very soon to give additional megawatts.

Touching on the erratic power situation, Mr Amuna said the erratic gas supply from Nigeria took officials by surprise during the weekend.

He said a reserve plant, the Mines Reserve Plant (MRP), providing about 74MW went down suddenly due to the low supply of gas, translating into the loss of 74MW.

“When there is too much demand for power and the supply is not enough, we have to shed load to match the supply and demand.

“If there is a sudden shortfall in the supply and the ECG has not got the time to knock off some areas, we have to select some areas we have control over and knock them or the whole system will collapse,” he explained.

The Public Relations Officer of the ECG, Mr William Boateng, apologised for the inconvenience caused by the erratic power outages.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, he said the ECG could only supply power to consumers based on what was given to it by the producers and transmitters.

“We can only distribute what we have at a particular time, but we are usually blamed for power outages because we are the face of the power industry,” he said.

He said the company shared the sentiments of consumers, saying, “It is an unfortunate situation and the people have every right to be angry.”

He explained that the initial quantum which was being shed was between 300 and 350MW, adding, however, that during the weekend GRIDCo switched off its machines, causing the blackout in some areas.

Based on the 300-350MW deficit, he said, the country was undergoing a 12-hour load-shedding programme, and pointed out that the erratic power from the transmitters made it difficult for the ECG to predict a blackout.

However, he said, the various stakeholders were working to ensure that the situation was resolved.

In the past 15 years, about 1,000MW of thermal generation capacity has been added, resulting in Ghana’s current generation capacity of 2,125MW.

The Akosombo Hydroelectric Power Plant supplies about 1,020MW of energy, followed by the Bui Dam, which produces 400MW, with the Aboadze Thermal Plant producing 360MW and the Takoradi Thermal Plant, 330MW.

Kpong produces 160MW, while the country’s first solar plant at Punga in the Upper East Region produces 2MW, giving the country 2,272 MW of combined electricity supply.

Many thermal generation projects, totalling over 1,000MW, are currently at various stages of development by both public and private operators.