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The 250-megawatt Bujagali hydropower plant that started supplying electricity to the national grid in February added another 50 megawatts to the national grid last week, the project sponsor has confirmed.
Bujagali Energy Ltd said the reliability test run for the second 50 megawatt unit was completed last week, bringing to 100 megawatts the total amount of power being generated from the project. “We started production of the second 50MW at the start of last week which has increased generation capacity from the plant to 100MW.
This should therefore improve supply to the transmission and distribution companies,” Sithe Global Vice President and Bujagali Project Director Glenn Gaydar said.
Energy Minister Simon D’Ujanga said the additional megawatts will reduce load-shedding from the current 12 hours to at most two hours.
“I am sure you do not get constant load-shedding anymore in the recent past and going forward, it is going to be very minimal. Instead of having no electricity every other day, it will go off for fewer hours and fewer days in a week,” Mr D’Ujanga said.
Umeme’s chief commercial officer Florence Nsubuga in support said there, will, indeed, be reduced load-shedding as a result of the additional 50MW from Bujagali.
However, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company insists that the additional 50MW is only a replacement of the lost power from the defunct thermal plant at Mutundwe.
“We were receiving 50MW from Aggreko so this is just a replacement of that power which brings it to a total of 335MW produced in totality to serve the entire population which leaves us with a deficit of 125MW since we need at least 455MW to have constant power supply to the entire country,” UETCL spokesperson Kenneth Otim said.
Government has so far decommissioned two emergency power plants; 50MW at Mutundwe and another 50MW plant in Jinja, bringing the total amount of thermal power generated down by 100MW. Power from Bujagali dam is filling this gap.
Government last November said it was decommissioning all the emergency thermal plants which have cost the nation Shs1.53 trillion since 2005 in subsidies.
Government plans to use the savings to finance public infrastructure projects, including the construction of the 600MW Karuma Hydropower Project, whose construction is expected to start in June 2012, as well as extend the transmission lines.
Industry experts say Bujagali will only provide temporary relief as demand is growing at 9 per cent per annum. Power demand is currently at 450MW against the supply of 350MW.
Mr Henry Rugamba, Umeme’s head of communications, said: “Bujagali, when fully commissioned, will be a game changer for only 12 months.”
Other industry players well versed with the power sector, however, expect the country to be able to comfortably meet demand post-Bujagali for about 3 years.
Mr D’Janga insists there is hope for more power supply from Bujagali which is expected to generate a total of 250MW by July this year. He said a third unit that will generate another 50MW is expected next month.
Presently, the government is focused on the 600MW Karuma dam.
By NELSON WESONGA & FLAVIA NALUBEGA: The Monitor Newspaper
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