Government has concluded negotiations with the Government of Brazil to finance the Juale River and Pwalugu hydro power plants at the cost of 555 million dollars.
The Energy Minister, Mr Felix Owusu-Agyapong, said upon completion of all the power plants under construction, the country's total installed power generation capacity would reach 3,500 megawatts by 2013.
Taking his turn at the Meet-the-Press series, the Minister said although that capacity was still less than the targeted 4,000 megawatts, it would provide the country with some reasonable level of comfort in the short to medium term.
Mr Owusu-Agyapong reiterated government's determination to continue to collaborate with the private sector to ensure that additional power plants were developed to meet the target.
He announced that Government had made substantial investments in the power sector in building more generation capacity, improving the transmission and distribution infrastructure as well as access to electricity.
“On the generation side, government is investing about 400 million dollars in the procurement of new thermal power generation capacity in addition to 600 million dollars from the China Exim Bank for the Bui hydropower project,” he added.
On electricity tariffs, the Minister said the availability of less expensive natural gas from Nigeria and the domestic discoveries would bring the cost of electricity generation down considerably and make it more affordable without government subsidizing it.
Mr. Owusu-Agyapong said the ministry had charged the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Volta River Authority (VRA) and Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to work out a programme to ensure that end-user tariffs were in single digits when Ghana's own natural gas became available.
“It is planned that end-user tariffs in Ghana should not be more than 9.0 cents per unit from 2011 and 2012 onwards.”
He said as part of the institutional reforms of the power sector, a new entity, Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO) was established to replace the Transmission Department of VRA to create a level playing field for all entities involved in the generation of electricity.
A core staff of 635 personnel had been ceded from VRA to GRIDCO and Government was providing the necessary financial and material support for the company to play its role effectively, he said.
The Minister said the Energy Ministry through the Energy Commission was engaging Ghanaian engineers and scientists to cooperate with other experts to make the cost of technologies of renewable energy such as solar, wind, and biofuels competitive, particularly for electricity generation.
“Government intends to explore the development of nuclear power generation in the medium term…. To move that agenda forward, the Ministry of Energy is collaborating with the Energy Commission and Ghana Atomic Energy Commission to develop a comprehensive programme for nuclear energy in the country,” he added.