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Engineers call on gov’t to sustain generation capacity of 100mw

February 24, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai

In order to address the drop in power generation due to reduced capacity from Bumbuna this dry season, the Sierra Leone Institution of Engineers (SLIE) and the Professional Engineers Registration Council (PERC), have called on the government to continue with plans to ensure that by April, 2017, there is a sustained generation capacity of electricity of at least 100 megawatts.

They made the call in a position paper titled “Sierra Leone’s Energy Security Challenges” released recently after they held a consultative meeting organised in partnership with the Ministry of Energy, the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) and the Electricity Generation and Transmission Company (EGTC) on 9th January, 2017, at the Cathedral House on Gloucester Street in Freetown.

“We met with the Ministry of Energy and its utility companies to discuss what plans government had made to provide adequate, reliable, affordable and sustainable power supply to consumers, especially as we approach the dry season with the challenges of low generation from Bumbuna and the attendant costs of generating power using the thermal plants available,” they said in the position paper.

They observed that if nothing was done by the government to address the drop in electricity generation, all the huge financial investments to increase evacuation capacity would not be money wisely spent.

 The position paper stated that there has been a serious mismatch between funding for improving evacuation capacity and increasing generation.

“There is an Energy Strategic Plan which was developed in 2014 and validated by stakeholders including the World Bank. The Government should take all necessary actions to achieve full implementation of this plan to achieve generation capacity including reserve generating capacity compatible with a maximum demand of 1041 MW by 2030. This compares favourably to the maximum demand based on a benchmarking approach. Addressing this anomaly can start now by accelerating investment in generation by all possible means,” the position paper states.

The Engineers, in their position paper, continued that  government should continue the process of reforming the energy sector to attract PrivateSector Investment, stating that such would  more be sustainable than continuously negotiating for fundingfrom the World Bank.

“The World Bank should be made aware of the anomalies the SLIE/PERC has observed regarding the assumptions made in their Commercial/Financial model, such high percentage of losses for Freetown and greater Freetown. SLIE/PERC is willing to be partners with the Ministry of Energy in achieving its mission to provide adequate, reliable, affordable and sustainable power supply to the nation,” they stated.

Regarding the losses in the system, the position paper of the Engineers stated that all energy supplied to a distribution utility does not reach the end consumer and a substantial amount of energy was lost in the distribution system by way of technical and non-technical losses.

“Technical Losses are naturally occurring losses caused by action internal to the power system and consist mainly of power dissipation in electrical system component such as transmission lines, power transformers, measurement system, etc. Technical losses are possible to compute and control. Non-technical Losses on the other hand are caused by actions external to the power system or are caused by loads and condition that the technical losses computation failed to take into account. Non-technical losses mainly relate to power theft in one form or the other,” they stated.

They defined power theft as energy delivered to customers that are not measured by the energy meter for the customer, adding that there were many causes of non-technical loss including tampering with meters to ensure the meter recorded a lower consumption reading, stealing by bypassing the meter or otherwise making illegal connections, tapping (hooking) on LT lines, arranging false readings by bribing meter readers, ignoring unpaid bills, faulty energy meters or un-metered supply and non-payment by customers.

They noted that EDSA has made significant efforts to move towards a total prepaid meter system.Currently85% of the meters are prepaid, noting that this number will rise to 90% in 2018.


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