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Uncertainty hangs over deadline to load shedding

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Street LightUncertainty hangs over when the current load shedding exercise will end as Volta River Authority (VRA) urges consumers to brace themselves for the exercise until May, when the situation is expected to normalise.

Presenting an update on the power situation in the country at a public forum in Tamale on Monday, Mr Samuel Fletcher, Head of Corporate Communications Unit of the VRA said the authority is expected to add 200 Megawatts (MW) of power from various power production units across the country to the national grid by May to restore normal power supply.

The forum, organised by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), brought together utility providers including VRA, Ghana Grid Company Limited, Northern Electricity Distribution Company, and Ghana Water Company Limited/Ghana Urban Water Limited (GWCL/GUWL), and consumers from Northern and Upper East Regions to share their concerns and experiences on the quality of utility provision.

Mr Fletcher said work on the West Africa Gas Pipeline (WAGP) was also expected to be completed in May to supply natural gas from Nigeria to the VRA to aid its operations and reduce the cost of power production.

He said it would not be the end of the intermittent power supply unless the country made an annual production increase of 250 MW to match her demand needs.

Ghana has been plunged into the current load shedding exercise following the damage to the WAGP in late August 2012, which had curtailed the supply of natural gas to the VRA for electricity production at its thermal power plants in Takoradi and Tema.

The situation has compelled VRA to buy light crude oil to power its thermal power plants to produce electricity, resulting in the Authority incurring high costs of production without corresponding to increase in revenue.

Documents made available to the Ghana News Agency by the VRA indicated that the Authority spent close to $3 million daily to run its thermal plants using light crude oil, which was double the cost of using natural gas.

Mr Fletcher said if natural gas did not arrive as expected, and “If VRA continues to sell electricity to the Electricity Company of Ghana at the current price, then production from our thermal power plants would have to be reduced or discontinued and that would mean further load shedding”.

He, therefore, called on consumers to collaborate with the VRA to buy more crude oil to produce more electricity to eliminate the load shedding and reduce the financial loss.

Meanwhile, GWCL/GUWL has also blamed obsolete machinery and power crisis for its inefficiency and inability to produce enough water to meet the demands of the populace.

Some of the participants urged the utility providers to audit their systems to ensure efficient and quality service provision.

Nana Yaa Jantuah, Director of Public Relations and External Affairs of the PURC described the forum as informative and would help all parties to strategise to ensure quality and efficient service provision.

Source: GNA

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