Bujagali Energy Ltd (BEL) insists it is generating 50MW to the power grid even though electricity consumers are hardly ‘seeing’ the electricity.
Just last week, the major power distributor - Umeme - was forced to “step up loadshedding from six to 12 hours due to decreased power supply from power generation companies”. BEL officials said yesterday that the second 50MW unit would be on board starting next month.
“We have successfully completed our reliability tests and are now exporting 50MW to the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd, which then forwards it to power distributors,” said Mr Bill Growth, BEL’s resident construction manager, at a press conference.
Umeme’s chief commercial officer Florence Nsubuga also told this newspaper the same. Three weeks back, the Ad Hoc Committee of Parliament on Energy said according to daily dispatches provided by Umeme, Bujagali was not contributing any electricity to the grid.
However, electricity consumers can hardly notice the difference because it is just “replacing” another 50MW that was withdrawn when diesel power generator Aggreko Kiira was decommissioned last June.
And even after the Bujagali’s second 50MW unit is commissioned next month, Aggreko Mutundwe’s extra three-month Shs432 billion-contract would have expired. The Industrial Promotion Services (K) Ltd Head of Infrastructure, Dr Kevin Kariuki, said the project is on course.
“The contractual date for commissioning Bujagali is June 24, 2012. At the request of the government, which wanted to mitigate the power deficit, we agreed to the unit-by-unit commissioning,” he said.
He added that once the full 250MW is commissioned, it would make Uganda more competitive because it would replace the more expensive thermal diesel power plants. However, Dr Kariuki refused to disclose Bujagali’s tariff, saying that was a contractual issue between BEL and the government.
While still promoting the project, the government had said Bujagali’s tariff would be $9 cents, though former Energy minister Hilary Onek said it would be $12 cents.