Business News of 2014-04-16

Power players to decide on ‘dumsor dumsor’

Stakeholders in the power sector are expected to meet today to deliberate on whether to sustain the ongoing load management programme, a source close to the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has said.

The power distributor has resorted to load-shedding following the inability of power producers to meet supply. The shortfall was necessitated by a drastic reduction in gas supply from the West Africa Gas Pipeline as well as the shutdown of some VRA thermal plants at Aboadze for scheduled maintenance.

The ECG announced an initial emergency two-week load-shedding programme, but this was extended by a fortnight. Last Monday was supposed to be the last day of the planned load-shedding programme, but checks by B&FT indicate that the load-shedding is still being undertaken.

Today’s meeting is expected to bring together the Energy Ministry, Volta River Authority, Ghana Grid Company, Electricity Company of Ghana, and other Independent Power Producers to discuss the way forward for the ongoing power crisis.

Though the power supply has improved considerably since the inception of emergency load management about a month ago, there was a deficit of 160MW as at Tuesday, April 15.

The Chief Executive Officer of the VRA, Kirk Koffi, earlier this month said the Authority is confident load-shedding will end before commencement of the Easter holidays, April 18.

With the current deficit, it is not immediately known whether the VRA will be able to carry out its promise of ceasing the ‘dumsor-dumsor’ at least by Friday. However, a realistic outcome from today’s stakeholders’ meeting will be a revised load management programme that should see the frequency of load management reduced considerably.

There is also a possibility that the power managers may consider shifting from peak to an off-peak (6am-6pm) load management programme to ease the effects on power consumers especially in the festive season.

The absence of power reserves means that the power situation is far from normalising. The VRA expects the 330MW Takoradi T1 plant, which currently generates only 120MW, to be fully available by June 30.

VRA is targetting end of 2016 when the completion of new power developments will bring enough reserves to make up for any shortfall.

Over the long-term (2014-2021), the VRA projects electricity demand to grow at an average of 7 percent annually -- rising from 1,950MW to 3,300MW in 2021.

Ongoing investments in the sector to ensure a targeted reserve margin of 18 percent of peak demand by 2016 includes completion of the 220MW Kpone thermal plant.