A LAST-MINUTE decision to extend the 50MW Kiira thermal plant contract has averted a return to the 12-hour loadshedding schedule. The plant was commissioned for two years in November 2006.
It was expected that upon expiry of the contract, a similar plant would be installed as a replacement.
However, delays in putting up a replacement were threatening to plunge the country into another energy crisis that would adversely affect the economy.
Eriasi Kiyemba, the managing director of the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company (UETCL), said: â€œWe have no alternative but to extend the thermal plantâ€™s contract. This is to ensure that a new thermal plant with the same capacity is installed and ready as a replacement.â€
â€œThe country cannot afford to return to 12-hour loadshedding because it is costly.â€
Kiyemba said they had agreed with Aggreko International to extend the plant up to when â€œwe get another replacement.â€
In December, The New Vision reported that the country would experience another 12-hour loadshedding schedule when the Kiira thermal plant in Jinja expires in December.
This is the second time Uganda is extending a thermal plant contract due to failure to put up a cheaper and reliable alternative source of electricity.
In August, another 50MW thermal plant based in Lugogo was extended for three months to allow commissioning of a 50MW heavy-fuel thermal plant in Namanve.
Uganda started procuring thermal generators in May 2005 due to acute electricity shortages.
The power shortages were caused by a four-year prolonged drought, which led to a reduction of Lake Victoriaâ€™s water levels. The power shortages affected all regional economies.
The two hydro-power plants in Jinja generated only 120MW from the installed capacity of 380MW, leaving a deficit of 260MW.
To bridge this electricity gap, the Government procured three thermal plants and installed them in Namanve, Mutundwe and Kiira. This has helped reduce daytime loadshedding.
However, there are plans to replace them with heavy-fuel oil thermal plants in Kaiso-Tonya (Hoima), Njeru (Mukono) and Tororo.
Kiira thermal contract extended