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19.04.2007 NDC News

GRIDCO Not Solution To Energy Crisis — NDC

THE National Democratic Congress (NDC) has stated that the short-term measure to resolve the energy crisis is for the government to bring in emergency power plants to generate additional electric power.

It said the setting up of the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO) was not the solution to the electricity crisis.

“The New Patriotic Party government cannot hoodwink the good people of Ghana by making it look as if it is doing something about the current energy crisis through the formation of GRIDCO when its establishment will not even add 1KW of power to the system now,” it said.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Minority Ranking Member on Communications, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, in reaction to a government press conference held on April 16, 2007 to inform the media of measures the government was taking to resolve the energy crisis.

It said the announcement by the Minister of Energy, Mr Joseph Adda, that GRIDCO had been set up to run the existing Volta River Authority (VRA) transmission network was no new policy, saying it was yet another NPP government adoption of an NDC government policy without giving due credit.

The statement recalled that when in 1997, as apart of the NDC government's reform of the energy sector, it decided to open the electricity sub-sector up for private sector participation, it was felt that the expected independent power producers (IPPs) could not be assured of a level playing field when a competitor, the VRA, was the owner and controller of the transmission lines.

It said the NDC government decided to restructure the generation, transmission and distribution aspects of electricity, adding that under the plan, the VRA was to be broken up and its role restricted to electricity generation only.

“The distribution of electricity was to be the responsibility of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). In this connection, the functions and operations of the Northern Electricity Department (NED) of the VRA were to be taken over by the ECG,” it said.

The statement said the IPPs were to be encouraged to participate in the generation of electricity and that “the first company which took advantage of the NDC's IPP policy was CMS Energy of Michigan, which entered into a joint venture with the VRA to set up the 220 MW Aboadze Thermal Plant (TAPCO)”.

It said the 161 kV transmission network currently operated by the VRA was to be hived off and set up as an independent national electricity grid transmission company which was to be responsible for ensuring that all generators of electricity would have equal and unfettered access to the national grid for the transportation of the electricity they generated to their customers.

The statement said a company, Volta Communication Company (Voltacom), was set up to run a telecommunication transmission system based on the fibre optic lines which were a part of the VRA's 161 kV transmission system.

Interestingly, it said, the person who had been appointed the Managing Director of GRIDCO, Mr Joseph Wiafe, was the Managing Director of Voltacom when it was set up under the NDC government's Power Sector Reform Programme.

“All these were contained in the NDC policy document entitled, “Government of Ghana: Statement of power sector development policy” presented by Mr Fred Ohene-Kena, the then Minister of Mines and Energy, to Parliament and to the World Bank in April 1999,” it pointed out.

The statement said what the NPP government had done was to dust up the NDC government's policy on electricity sub-sector reforms and present it as an NPP government policy on electricity.

It said the issue of open access to the transmission system was an important component of the measures to attract IPPs.

That, it said, would take some time to materialise but would not resolve what it called “the NPP government-induced electricity crisis which has thrown the country into darkness and is collapsing hundreds of small and medium-scale enterprises on a daily basis”.