The Committee for Joint Action (CJA), a political pressure group, has said that from the time the government embarked on the load shedding exercise on August 27, 2006, the electricity supply situation in the country has degenerated.
“From a load shedding schedule of 12 hours light-off every five days, we have retrogressed to a 12 hour light-off every other day and are currently being subjected to a 15-hour lights-off every other day even though this latest move has not been officially announced”.
The CJA said this at a press conference to share thoughts on what it called “ the ever worsening electricity crisis facing the nation” and the “insensitivity of the government in increasing prices of fuel, water and electricity”.
Pondering on the generation of electricity in the country, the group stated that Ghana in the past had surplus electricity, and was therefore a net exporter of power.
It said when Dr Kwame Nkrumah inaugurated the 588 MW Akosombo power plant in January, 1966 the Acheampong regime increased the capacity from 588 MW to 912 MW by adding two more turbines.
In addition, the Supreme Military Council (SMC)/Dr Limann governments undertook the construction of the 160MW Kpong hydroelectric facility which incidentally was inaugurated by the then PNDC Chairman, J. J. Rawlings.
The CJA said that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government under Rawlings added the 550 MW Aboadze thermal power plant.
“By the end of 2000 the installed electricity capacity in the country was 1,640 MW, made up of 1,090 MW hydro power and 550 MW thermal power”.
It explained that as previous governments were increasing the installed electric power capacity, the country's demand was also increasing at a rate of about 10 per cent per annum.
The group said It had also been established that the hydrology of the Volta Lake was such that between every seven to 10 years, it went through a cycle of drought which led to low water inflows into the Volta Lake. In 1983, 1993 & 1998-1999 the lake experienced those low water inflows.
The CJA said that with this background, it was proposed in December 2003 that the capacity of the Aboadze thermal plant must be expanded with the addition of the 110 MW steam component by the end of 2006 in addition to the operation of the 'Osagyefo' power barge project to produce 125 MW of power by the end of 2005.
The CJA referred to the 2003-2004 annual report of the Energy Commission in which the current energy crisis was predicted and a number of recommendations made to deal with it.
It said that the commission warned that under no circumstance should the Akosombo Dam be operated below 240 feet and recommended that in order to avoid any future electricity problems a 200 MW thermal plant should be installed by the end 2003.
In addition, it recommended that by the end of 2004 another 200 MW thermal plant should also be installed while another 200 MW plant should be inaugurated by the end of 2007.
The CJA observed that “if the NPP government had implemented the very sound proposals it was given, Ghana would have had an additional installed electric power capacity of 835 MW by 2007”, adding that the government however, paid no heed to the technical advice of its own experts.
“The NPP government, instead of telling Ghanaians about the gravity of the electric power crisis and the time it would take to solve the problem, has been engaged in strenuous efforts to deceive Ghanaians that all will be well within months”.
It said that the electricity crisis had seriously affected the economy since industrial establishments had either closed down or laid off workers in order to cut down on production cost or were generating their own electric power at such high cost that their products had become uncompetitive on the market.
It asked the government to import more emergency power plants to help deal with the situation while the 80 MW generating sets imported by the mining companies must be made operational immediately.
It suggested that the VRA must be resourced to enable it to complete the construction and installation of its 126 MW thermal plant at Tema while effective mechanisms must be put in place to encourage Ghanaians to shift to the usage of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL bulbs) to conserve electricity.