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Come Again, VRA
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All may not be very well with the country’s power generation, transmission and distribution.

As of now, there is no end in sight to the load-shedding exercise and stories abound about why the three power companies – the Volta River Authority (VRA), the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) – cannot supply adequate power to consumers.

Somewhere last year, we were told that the power-rationing exercise would be over when work on the West Africa Gas Pipeline was completed.

Presently, it is not too clear when work on the damaged pipeline would be over. There are reports that work will be done by the end of March or the beginning of April this year and when that task is accomplished load shedding will be a thing of the past.

The VRA is not consistent with the challenges confronting power generation in the country. Its officials seem to be shifting the goalpost any day they have the opportunity to explain issues to consumers.

Last Saturday, the Daily Graphic carried a story in which the VRA explained why it was unable to meet the power generation needs of the country.

The Chief Executive Officer of VRA, Mr Kweku Awortwi, was reported to have said that “while the government and the ECG owe the VRA $400 million, the cost of crude oil importation had increased from $225 million in 2011 to $530 million as of 2012. “Currently, the authority, which is the main producer of the country’s energy, spends $50 million every 20 days to import crude oil to produce power”.

We appreciate the challenges facing the VRA and hope that sooner than later these problems will be resolved to pave the way for a more efficient power generation, transmission and distribution.

It is incumbent on the government, the ECG and other bulk consumers to settle their indebtedness to the VRA. This action is critical because the effect of poor power supply is low productivity in both the formal and informal sectors.

The VRA envisages that an upward adjustment in tariffs among other interventions will help it to meet operations cost and get additional revenue to generate more power.

But the Daily Graphic is not sure of the backlash that will greet tariff adjustment in view of the poor services from the VRA and the other power companies.

We have said before that the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) has lost the clout to deal with the utility companies.

The PURC gives the utility companies targets but we have no idea whether the commission has sanctioned any of the Chief Executive Officers of these companies.

Last year, the country experienced nationwide power outages for about three occasions compelling the PURC to initiate investigations into the circumstances that led to the outages. We are yet to be told the outcome of that investigations.

Frankly speaking the power companies need the support of consumers to be able to deliver their mandate but customer services from these companies must also meet the standards to engender the needed consumer response.

Basic marketing tells us that the consumer is king and that service providers can achieve their bottom line if only they delight their customers. Unfortunately, customer service lessons seem to have been lost on most service providers including power companies.

The Daily Graphic believes that the power companies require public cooperation and other stakeholder support to succeed in their mandate to provide power at all times. Anything to the contrary will disrupt any plans for increased productivity.

We also appeal to the power companies to be very consistent with the operational challenges in order to gain the understanding of consumers.
Source: Daily Graphic/Editorial

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