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Bujagali performing beyond expectation – management

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th August 2013 01:42 PM

Authorities at the Bujagali Energy Project (BEL) have said the power plant is performing beyond expectation. There have been fears among sections of the public that the Bujagali plant is producing below its capacity of 250MW, with some citing this as a reason for power outages.

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Authorities at the Bujagali Energy Project (BEL) have said the power plant is performing beyond expectation. There have been fears among sections of the public that the Bujagali plant is producing below its capacity of 250MW, with some citing this as a reason for power outages.

By Billy Rwothungeyo and Samuel Sanya
 
Authorities at the Bujagali Energy Project (BEL) have said the power plant is performing beyond expectation. There have been fears among sections of the public that the Bujagali plant is producing below its capacity of 250MW, with some citing this as a reason for power outages.
 
Dr. Kevin Kariuki, the head of infrastructure in the Aga Khan’s Industrial Promotion Services, said Bujagali cannot be blamed for the outages because one year after the commissioning of the project, BEL is performing ‘beyond expectations’.
 
“For the first year, we were expected to provide an availability of 95%. Today, we are providing 98-99%. There even months like February where we reached 100%,” he said.
 
The Bujagali hydropower plant started commercial operation on August 1, doubling Uganda’s electricity supply.
They added that the ongoing maintenance works at the power plant are scheduled and are done with the full backing of the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company (UETCL).
 
“This entire (maintenance works) is planned. What we probably need to do is to try and balance the maintenance so that not more than one unit either with us (Bujagali) or with Owen Falls (Nalubale) is under maintenance so that the consumer does not notice (power shortages),” said Lutaf Kassam, a director of the project.
 
When journalists visited the facility on Monday to see the progress of the project as it makes its first anniversary, one of the five turbines was switched off due to maintenance works.
 
Each turbine produces up to 50MW of power. John Berry, the general manager of BEL, also said the works are routine.
“All the five turbines will be subjected to maintenance works by November. Each turbine is subjected to these checks for at least 10 days.”
Berry added that the maintenance works, which will be done on an annual basis, are coordinated to ensure that the country has enough electricity at any one given moment.
Owned by a consortium of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) and Sithe Global (a company majority owned by Blackstone), BEL will own and operate the hydropower plant for a 30 year concession period before transferring the plant to the Ugandan government for $1. 
 
Meanwhile, three Ugandan electricity firms have applied for licenses to generate 61.7MW for communities in the districts of Kapchorwa, Kasese and Hoima as the energy deficit gradually narrows.  
 
Only between 9% and 11% of Uganda’s estimated population of 37 million people have access to electricity, yet demand for power is growing rapidly, with 50MW needed every year to avoid black outs.   
 
The Government is pushing for rural electrification for value addition to agricultural produce and spark industrialisation. 
Ipis Hydro has applied for a license to generate 3.7MW on river Sipi in Sipi sub-county and Nyamagasani 2 HPP has applied to generate 8MW on river Nyamagasani in Kyarumba sub-county. 
 
The third firm, Optimus Energy, has applied to generate 50MW from thermal power in Busereka sub-county near the site of the proposed 60,000 barrels per day oil refinery in the oil-rich Hoima district. 
 
Peak demand for electricity has hit 480MW with supply currently at 500MW since the 250MW Bujjagali hydro power dam started operating. 
 
Henry Rugamba, the Umeme publicist, noted that a cement factory in Lugazi and a new Roofings plant in Mukono will create demand for an additional 40MW of electricity. 
 
There are plans to set up an East African power market where electricity produced in one country can be sold at a competitive rate to a neighboring country through a series of interconnections.
 
Ambassador Richard Sezibera, the East African Community secretary general, recently said increased private sector investment in energy will bring down unit costs for consumers. 
 

Bujagali performing beyond expectation – management

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