Government yet to clear Shs60 billion debt to thermal plants
Posted Tuesday, January 8 2013 at 14:15
Ministry of Finance says the thermal power plants signed contracts with UETCL, and therefore should present their billing before the transmission company.
One year since the government scrapped power subsidies, the State is yet to clear Sh59.7 billion it owes some thermal electricity plants.
Though the State Minister for Energy, Mr Simon D’Ujanga, told the Daily Monitor he needs time to crosscheck the figure, the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (UETCL) had earlier said the government should find the money.
UETCL deputy chief executive officer, Mr William Kiryahika, told this newspaper that the money is an outstanding amount arising out of the government subsidy for electricity users.
“We are not as desperate as before [when the thermal power plants would turn off their switches over unpaid dues]. But if someone has supplied a service, they should be paid. The government should look for the money,” he said.
When contacted, Mr Jim Mugunga, the acting spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, said the thermal power plants have contracts with the transmission company.
Though the government decommissioned the Aggreko thermal electricity plant, two thermal plants – Electro-maxx and Jacobsen - remain in the energy mix. Each of the two has an installed-capacity of 50 megawatts.
UETCL has even projected that it will this year increase its spending on thermal electricity (Sh81.7 billion) because there are more factories that use a lot of electricity.
In the past, failure by UETCL to honour its obligations forced the thermal generators to cut off supply, which contributed to load shedding.
The government roped in thermal power plants in 2005 to mitigate the power crisis attributed to the low hydropower generation due to drought, and therefore, low water levels.
However, owing to the increasing price of crude oil, which is used by thermal plants, the government had by 2012 parted with Shs1.048 trillion.
As a result, power tariffs were then subsequently increased by between 36 per cent and 69 per cent.