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27.04.2007 General News

The Energy Crisis---NPP’s "GRIDCO"

By Ghana Palaver
– A borrowed NDC policy
The NDC Parliamentary Minority has asked the NPP government to stop trying to hoodwink the people of Ghana by making it look as if something is being done about the current energy crisis through the formation of Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO).
According to the group, the establishment of the new company, Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO) will not add even 1 KW of power to the system. The Energy Minister, at a Press Conference on Monday had announced that as part of measures the NPP government was taking to resolve the energy crisis, the 161 KV transmission line system, which currently was an integral part of the VRA system, was to be carved out and set up as a separate company to run the existing VRA transmission network and any future ones. The Minister said that a new company, Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO), had been set up for this purpose.
In a quick reaction the very next day, the NDC Minority, in a statement signed by Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, the Ranking Member for Communications described as false the impression the NPP was creating as if the announcement was a new policy being initiated by the NPP.
"This so called NP government new policy initiated is no new policy. It is yet another NPP government's adoption of an NDC government policy without giving due credit to the NDC government. In short, it is "a borrowed policy," the NDC statement said.
According to The NDC Minority, way back in 1997, as part of the NDC government's reforms of the energy sector, the decision was taken to open the electricity sub sector up for Private Sector participation. Since it was felt at the time that the expected Independent Power Producers (IPPs) could not be assured of a level playing field because VRA, the major competitor, was the owner and the controller of the transmission lines, the NDC government decided to restructure the generation, transmission and distribution aspects of the electricity sub-sector.
The Minority explained that as part of the restructuring plans, 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 Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). Additionally, Independent Power Producers (IPPs) were to be encouraged to participate in the generation of electricity.
The NDC Minority stated that the first company which took advantage of the NDC's IPP was CMS Energy of Michigan which entered into a joint venture with VRA to set up the 220 MW Aboadze Thermal Plant (TAPCO).
In furtherance of the plans, the NDC determined that 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.
This company was to be responsible for ensuring that all generators of electricity would have equal unfettered access to the national grid for transportation of the electricity they generated to their customers. The final bit of the plan was that a company, Volta Communication Company (Voltacom), was set up to run a telecommunication transmission system based on the FIBRE OPTIC lines, which are a part of the VRA's 161 KV transmission system.
"All these were contained in the NDC policy document entitled 'Government of Ghana: Statement of Power Sector Development Policy' presented by the Honourable Ferdinand Ohene-Kena, Minister of Mines and Energy, to Parliament and to the World Bank in April 1999" the NDC Minority explained.
The statement said that interestingly, the person who has been appointed as the Managing Director of the NPP government's proposed National Grid Company, Mr. Joseph Wiafe, was the Managing Director of the Volta Communication Company when it was set up under the NDC government's Power Sector Reform Programme.
The full text of the NDC Statement is published elsewhere in this paper.