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General News
Akosombo May Be Shut Down By June 1/23/2007
If current trends in electricity supply continue, the Akosombo hydro-electric project may have to be temporary shut down by June this year. This is because Ghana is now overdrawing electricity from Dam at a rate of close to 50 per cent. Energy experts say that this situation cannot continue for another six months without major adverse consequences.

To forestall a shut down, government will have to very quickly bring in new but more expensive generating plants and this could lead to substantial increases in electricity tariffs.

An official of the Volta River Authority (VRA) who spoke to The Insight on condition of anonymity said the importation and operation of additional generating plants could increase tariffs by anything from 200 to 500 per cent. A diesel generating plant which has been installed at Tema has not been used for yet two main reasons.

The plant needs rehabilitation and the cost of operating it is prohibitive. Some of the mining companies including Newmont are known to be considering importing their own generating plants in order to offset the energy crisis but the plants cannot be operative before June this year.

The Companies have already been instructed to cut their electricity consumption by as much as 25 per cent. There is also talk in government circles of encouraging independent power producers whose costs are expected to be very high. Discussion with the Chinese on building and operating the Bui hydro-electric project are said to be very advanced but the project cannot be completed before June.

It appears that in the short term the only option available to Government is the importation of generating plants which will cost in excess of US$40million. The problem is that these plants will feed on imported fuel and it is still not clear if Government has the finances for that. Experts say that the real problem with electricity generation is the low water level in the Akosombo Dam. Although the minimum operating level of the Dam is said to be around 246 feet, it is currently operating below that level. Some experts say that the political interferences are worsening the problem.

For example, over the Christmas and New Year holidays the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Volta River Authority were ordered to halt the load shedding exercise. The exercise is also expected to be suspended for the celebration of Ghana’s 50th Independence Anniversary. The power crisis could undoubtedly lead to economic collapse resulting from shifting investments from Ghana to other places, the collapse of local industries and the need for the recapitalisation of companies.

Source:
The Insight




 
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