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19.11.2008 General News

Power Crisis Over

> Power Crisis Over

The country's power crisis over 13 critical months has been declared over by Energy Minister Joseph Kofi Adda, with an assurance of uninterrupted power supply from today.

The country's power crisis over 13 critical months has been declared over by Energy Minister Joseph Kofi Adda, with an assurance of uninterrupted power supply from today.

The country-wide power ration was imposed on August 28, 2006 following acute water shortage in the Akosombo Dam.

In a statement issued in Accra last Saturday, the Energy Minister said the decision to revert to normal power supply was taken following a review of the power situation by the government and the power utility companies.

The Volta River Authority (VRA) and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) began the national load-shedding exercise last year, when the level of water in the dam reached 236.77 feet.

The Director in charge of Hydro Generation of the VRA, Mr Kirk Koffie, was quoted in the August 30, 2006 issue of the Daily Graphic as saying that the level of the dam was “the lowest ever recorded in the history of the hydro power generating station since it was built in 1961”.

  

Other dimensions of the crisis brought to the fore the country's obsolete energy infrastructure and unprofitable tariff system that made the VRA and ECG, the two main agencies in energy generation and supply, unable to operate efficiently.

In March this year, the VRA reduced the number of turbines which the Akosombo Dam operated from three to two.

When the water level dropped to below 235 feet in July this year, there were calls on the VRA to shut down the dam but the VRA explained that the dam was not in danger.

It is the tarrif aspect which is expected to cut short the joy of Ghanaian in coming days, as the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) is expected to heed the request of the VRA and the ECG to increase tariffs.

The ECG and the VRA have asked for tariff adjustments of between 60 and a 100 per cent to take effect this month.

Under the load-shedding programme, each region was divided into zones and power cuts occurred for a 12-hour and 24-hour period in the zones at specified times in a three-day cycle.

On November 8, 2006, the VRA and the ECG reviewed the programme to a five-day cycle with power outages occurring only from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. with the re-grouping of zones in the Greater Accra and Volta regions to five instead of six and five zones instead of seven in the Central and Eastern Regions of the country.

The energy crisis saw frantic efforts by the government, industries and individuals to purchase generating sets, while religious bodies, including Christians and Muslims, resorted to prayer for spiritual intervention in the rain pattern of the country.

The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rt Rev Dr Yaw Frimpong-Manso, in April this year, urged Ghanaians to “go on their knees during the Easter festivities to pray for divine intervention in the crisis”, while some pastors and leaders of the Local Council of Churches from Atimpoku, Accra, Tema and Suhum followed up to the dam site at Akosombo to pray.

The President, Mr J. A. Kufuor, also visited the site on July 7, 2007 and stated that “God will not allow the Akosombo Dam to hang”.

He subsequently promised the government's leadership in resolving the crisis. To mitigate the effects of the crisis, initiatives by the government included the importation of an 80-megawatt emergency power supply plants and the revival of the Osagyefo Power Barge that was to produce 120 megawatts of energy.

To ensure conservation of energy, the government also imported six million energy-saving Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs), while through the Ghana Standards Board, education on energy inefficient gadgets began.

Industries also joined in the efforts with a consortium of mining firms importing an 80-megawatt generating set.

Last month, the Minister of Energy announced a review of the programme in view of the fact that water in the dam was improving while the emergency power plants imported into the country were operating at their most efficient level.

Cote D'Iviore also restored power supply to Ghana.

The statement announcing the end to the load-shedding programme said the deployment of the CFLs was now in full force and encouraged all power consumers to cooperate with the implementation teams to ensure that incandescent bulbs were replaced with energy-saving lamps.

It reminded the public on the need to continue to conserve energy and asked all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), as well as other public institutions, to continue to comply with the government directives on the use of air conditioning and lighting systems in buildings and offices.

The statement expressed appreciation to the public for its support and fortitude during the implementation of the load management programme and assured the public that measures being undertaken would ensure reliable and sustainable supply of power in the future.

Reached for his comments on the announcement of an end to the load-shedding exercise, the President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Mr Tony Oteng Gyasi, said it was welcome news and recalled that the past year of load-shedding had been extremely difficult for the private sector, particularly industry.

He said as for the losses incurred by industry, that was well known to all and repeated that what was important now was for all, including the government, to provide a more reliable power system to support the national development efforts.

“We think that an end to the load-shedding exercise should not mean an end to the medium to long term efforts by the government to improve generation and distribution of power in the country,” Mr Oteng Gyasi said.

He suggested that such steps should include the process of ensuring quality generation and distribution of utilities to forestall the frequent interruptions and power outages, sometimes due to the quality and age of the equipment, adding that, “this must be addressed now!”

On tariff adjustments, he said industry had always insisted that it had no difficulty with adjustments provided the services being provided met the expectation of consumers.

   

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