Power outages, popularly known as dumsor, are imminent in the coming days as the power sector is on the verge of losing 600 megawatts (MW) of generation by February 3, 2017 due to a complex web of financial obligations and other challenges confronting the national generator, the Volta River Authority (VRA).

The power supply deficit is occurring mainly at the Aboadze power enclave in the Western Region.

Generating plants

The Daily Graphic has gathered that as of the close of last week, the VRA’s Takoradi Thermal Plant Stations (TAPCO 1&2) were already down with 330MW of power, as the contractor for its long-term service agreement (LTSA) refused to carry out major inspection to demand the payment of a $2 million debt owed it.

That aside, the Takoradi International Company (TICO) is also going through challenges, leading to the reduction of power output from 330MW to 155MW currently.

A third generator, T3, has not been operational for several years now.

This leaves only one plant, AMERI, which is designed to use only gas.

This means that from February 3, 2017 when the Atuabo Gas Processing Plant will not receive natural gas from the Jubilee Field for at least 15 days, that plant cannot also contribute any generation to the national electricity grid.

VRA warns of dumsor

The Daily Graphic has a copy of a letter emanating from the Chief Executive Officer of the VRA, Mr Kirk Coffie, which warns of the impending return to dumsor in January.

The letter, which was copied to the CEOs of the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO) and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), warned them of the possible return of dumsor from this month.

Maintenance debt

A highly placed source at the VRA told the Daily Graphic that VRA had a long-term maintenance service contract with a Dutch company to service units and supply spare parts.

However, the VRA currently owes that company in excess of $2 million and the company is demanding payment before it starts work on the TAPCO plant, which has already shut down for scheduled and routine inspection, an exercise which precedes a planned maintenance exercise, usually two months thereafter.

According to the source, even if a payment plan was agreed upon immediately, “the plant’s maintenance in April and AMERI going down in February mean about 580MW of power will be lost from the grid”.

Another challenge

The fear of imminent “dumsor” is further heightened by the planned shut down of gas supply from the Jubilee Field to Atuabo for 15 days, to be followed by a complete shutdown of the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah situated on the Jubilee Field for another 12 weeks to allow for the fixingof a defective turret bearing.

The Daily Graphic gathered that the power generating companies were, however, set to lead a campaign on energy conservation.