Business News of 2013-12-16

ECG denies secret load-shedding

The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) says any frequent power outage being experienced by some electricity consumers are due to system failures rather than a deliberate power-rationing exercise.

Parts of Accra have been subjected to regular power outages for the past two weeks, with some residents accusing the ECG of undertaking a secret power-rationing exercise.

However, in an interview with the B&FT, William Boateng, ECG’s Head of Public Relations, attributed the power outages being experienced in particularly the north-eastern part of Accra -- Adenta, Madina, Dome, Oyibi and its environs -- to a fault in a major underground cable serving the area.

According to him, “the ECG has been having multiple faults in one of its major underground cables -- Adenta Feeder, a 33,000-volt (33kV) cable -- which lies in front of the Legon Primary Substation. When you repair it, within a few days it breaks down again. So anytime the feeder goes off, we have to feed the affected customers from another feeder, which means we ration power to the affected areas.”

“The fact is we are not implementing a nationwide load-shedding but a localised one within the affected areas,” he added.

“Our engineers are working assiduously on repairing the underground cable. It is no mean task as the cables have to be dug out from the ground and worked on before being fixed again,” he said.

As part of the company’s plans to prevent the situation recurring, Mr. Boateng added that ECG is currently laying another cable which will run parallel to the one being worked on in order to sustain the load should the cable trip again.

In August 2012, the country was plunged into a nationwide power-rationing programme necessitated by an accidental cut in the West Africa Gas Pipeline which supplies fuel to the several thermal plants in the country.

The unavailability of gas meant that some power plants had to run on costly crude oil which, together with the nation’s hydropower dams, were not able to meet the full demands of power consumers. The subsequent load-shedding exercise lasted nearly a year.

Mr. Boateng, who was unable to state exactly when the improvised power-rationing in the affected areas would end, stated that ECG’s engineers have been tasked to ensure that ongoing works to restore power are concluded before the Christmas holidays.