UETCL fails to implement 70% of directives issued by regulator

Faulty: At least seven power transformers belonging to UETCL, according to the regulator, are faulty and there is limited probability of repair. FILE PHOTO

Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) has not implemented more than 70 per cent of directives issued by Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA).

According to a documents seen by Daily Monitor, ERA’s feedback for the 2019 fourth quarter of the power system review, shows that the directives that had sought to improve availability and reliability of power supply, have not been implemented over time.

“UETCL has not implemented 70.2 per cent of the previous directives... UETCL has not complied with the prudent practices and budget implementation on generator maintenance, which is leaving the network exposed to power failures as a result of loss of direct current supply;” the document authored by ERA reads in part.

UETCL is mandated with buying power from electricity generators and eventually selling it to distributors such as Umeme, which supply it to the final consumers.

Seven power transformers belonging to UETCL, the documents show, are faulty including two 40 megavolt amperes (MVA) and 20 MVA in Tororo with limited probability of repair. Other faulty ones include some in Masaka, Nkenda, Lira, Clock Tower and Namanve.

In its review, ERA indicates that UETCL reported multiple major faults on the power system which resulted in power supply interruptions including a total system collapse and four partial system collapses.

For instance, there were 83 transformer power supply interruptions in the second quarter of 2019, which were caused by overloading and faults among others.

In addition, UETCL had not serviced its diesel generators for 10 months contrary to 250 hours or three months as required.

“The evidence presented by UETCL shows that diesel generators were last serviced in March 2019. The UETCL 2017-2019 multi-year tariff (MYT) approval considered quarterly diesel generator servicing. UETCL is in breach of this approval as well as prudent practice,” ERA notes in the feedback.

As a result, ERA said that UETCL is in breach of some licensing conditions in regard to its high voltage transmission grid license.

However, the regulator noted during the period, load shedding had reduced by 350 per cent from 611.79 megawatt per hour to 135.9MWh.

UETCL was issued with a notice of default pointing out a number of directives that have been not complied with. The power transmitter was also directed to submit a status update on all pending directives indicating timelines for completion of each activity by April 7.

When contacted for a comment, Ms Pamela Nalwanga, the UETCL spokesperson, said she could not discuss the matter as it is still work in progress.

A fault with the transmission network can create a nation-wide black out similar to that experienced last week or limitations in power supply to last mile connections.

Automated switch

In the last three years, there has been at least five incidences of national power shutdowns, which, according to experts, might be caused by lack of automation.

For instance, when there was a national shutdown last week, many experts wondered why government has not put in place an automated switch linking Uganda’s generation points.

Some, for instance, argued that there should be an automated switch from, for example Nalubaale dam, in case of an emergency, to Isimba dam to avoid shutdowns that in the end turn out more costly, especially for manufacturers.