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VRA Paints Gloomy Picture Of Power Situation
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The Volta River Authority (VRA) has painted a gloomy picture of the country’s energy generation, saying that the Akosombo Dam will be forced to operate below its minimum water level by the end of July if it does not rain in the catchment area of the dam.
Speaking at a public forum in Accra yesterday, the Director of Planning and Business Development of the VRA, Mr Kofi Ellis, said the Akosombo Dam, which has a maximum water level of 278 feet, was currently operating at 244 feet, just four feet above the minimum water level of 240 feet.

He said because of the water level, the VRA had been forced to operate four of its six turbines to generate about 500 megawatts (MW). 

Each of the turbines generates 140MW, instead of 170MW.

The forum, organised by Joy FM, a private radio station in Accra, was attended by energy experts and industry players. The discussions centred on the power challenges and how to find a lasting solution to them.

Water level
Mr Ellis said the water level at the Akosombo Dam dropped by 0.05 foot every day and indicated that if that trend continued in the next 100 days, the level would fall below the minimum level of 240 feet.

He said the VRA was trying to maintain the deficit in anticipation of rains from June to improve the water level.

“As the water level goes down, it is difficult to run the machines. We have gone down the minimum curve. The machines can’t perform at full capacity.

“It will be critical if the water level continues to go down, instead of up, by the end of July,” he said.

Mr Ellis said under the circumstance, the VRA would be forced to operate the machines below the minimum water level, saying the authority had had the experience of operating the machines at 238 feet before.

Generation capacity
Touching on generation capacity, he said the country’s installed capacity was 2,800MW, while total demand was 2,100MW.

 The country has about 450MW deficit due to the decrease in the water level at the Akosombo Dam and the breakdown of some power plants.

“Ideally, with the installed capacity, the country should not be in crisis,” he said.

Load shedding
The General Manager of the Sub-Transmission Division of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Mr Samuel Odame, said the ECG shed 400MW and 450MW during off peak and peak hours, respectively.

He said the company was trying to observe the timetable for the power shedding — 24 hours off and 12 hours on.

However, he said, the frequent breakdown of power plants made it difficult for it to always give customers the requisite power.

He assured the public of the supply of more power if the situation improved, saying, “Plan for 24 hours and whatever you get is a bonus.”

Drop exemptions
A former Chief Executive of the VRA, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, who was the moderator for the forum, charged the ECG to stop giving exemptions to the security services, ministries and hospitals, since the security services and ministries did not use the power for any productive things.

Rather, he said, the power should be given to industry to save companies from collapse.

“There are too many exemptions which are non-productive,” he said.

 Mr Odame, however, disagreed with Dr Wereko-Brobbey’s suggestion and indicated that the security services needed the power to ensure national security; the ministries required it to run government business, while hospitals used it for health care.

Therefore, he said, the ECG would continue to ensure unimpeded supply to those institutions so long as power was available.

Energy Commission
The Chairman of the Energy Commission, Dr Kwame Ampofo, stressed the need for Ghanaians to manage their energy to conserve power.

He said energy conservation could reduce power deficit and ultimately increase the distribution level.

Energy expert
The Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, said it did not make financial sense for the government to go for power barges from Dubai which would cost it $700 million.

Dr Adam, who claimed that he had made his checks with the American power giant, General Electric, said the government could buy that power for $200m.

“One wonders why government would go in for a BOT (build,operate,transfer) arrangement that will require us to pay $700m over five years when we could have bought it outright for $200m,” he said.

Again, he said he did not agree that the power barges would come to Ghana by the end of April, as announced by the government, and indicated that his checks indicated that the barges could arrive in the country by the end of the year.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Mr Seth Twum-Akwaboah, said the power crisis had drastically reduced the production level of small, medium and large-scale companies.

As a result, he said, companies were laying off workers.

He, therefore, stressed the need for urgent steps to find a lasting solution to the energy crisis.

Source: Daily Graphic

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