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Utility services providers want support to increase tariff

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Officials of utility service providers on Monday appealed to stakeholders and the general public to support their proposed tariff increase to enable the institutions render quality service and to meet operational cost.

The officials said a 1.5 billion-dollar capital investment was needed, as a short to medium term measure, to meet increasing cost of distribution and replacement of technical equipment in the sector.

Speaking to journalists on Monday in Accra, Mr. Kweku Andoh Awotwi, Chief Executive Officer of the Volta River Authority (VRA), described the current revenue collected to cover cost of production at the Authority as inadequate and called for a realistic increase in tariff to meet both the operating cost and demand growth of the people.

He said revenue generated was barely enough to cater for cost of production let alone to pay salaries of workers.

Mr. Cephas Gakpo, the Managing Director of Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), said high customer population growth, increased commercial losses, especially through theft of cables and other equipments and evasion of electricity bills were issues the sector was bedevilled with.

He said overloading of equipment and lines due to capacity constraints, weak feeders and obsolete equipment as well as inadequate alternative sources of power supply were factors that caused power outages and low voltages.

Mr. Gakpo said government was assisting the Company to finance the replacement of credit meters with prepaid meters and added that ECG had contracted two consultants to inspect the metering of 10,000 customers to check accuracy and to address the company’s revenue problems.

“There is the need to expand capacity to meet growing demand, replace equipment in time and to enable ECG to finance capital investment projects by itself,” he said, and appealed to stakeholders to support the review of the tariff to improve quality of service.

Mr. Charles Darku, Chief Executive Officer of GRIDco, said the company was beleaguered with challenges that include keeping up with the growing demand in Accra and Kumasi in particular, the slow pace of network expansion to meet government’s targets of having about 5,000 megawatt generation capacity by 2015 and 80 per cent access rate to electricity to all Ghanaians.

As a solution, he said, the company needed to modernize the entire transmission system, construct several high voltage interconnection lines to link with other neighbouring utilities and to maintain existing facilities.

Mr Darku expressed worry that the peak power demand in Accra had grown from 110 megawatt in 1990 to 400 in 2009 stressing that the transformer capacity of Accra had almost been exhausted.

He said plans were advanced to upgrade electro-mechanical equipment at Achimota, Volta and Mallam substations and to add two 66MVA transformers to the Mallam station by end of 2010.

Mr. Darku said “engineering studies are almost complete to fast track construction of a fourth circuit to Achimota from Volta to improve transmission of electricity to the capital city”.

The utility service providers recently presented a proposal for increase in tariff to the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission for consideration, to enable the companies to meet operational costs and provide quality service to the public.

Source: GNA

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