Malawians should brace for long hours of no electricity during this year’s Easter holidays following plans by the Electricity Generation Company Malawi Limited (Egenco) to completely shut down Nkula A and B Hydro Power Plants for planned maintenance works.
Currently the country has been subjected to continued blackouts due to lower waters levels in Lake Malawi thereby compromising power generation. Malawi relays heavily on hydro power and at meantime water levels are at 473.0 meters above sea level than required 474.5 (masl).
And on Wednesday, Egenco told the media that it will shut down two of its power generating stations for two days during the Easter in April to conduct major maintenance works, taking out 124 Mega Watts (MW) of the total 360 MW national generation capacity.
Nkula A generates 24MW and Nkula B generates 100MW on daily basis.
According to Egenco Chief Executive Officer, William Liabunya the power stations will completely be shut down from the Eve of Easter Thursday 13th April to Saturday 15th April.
“Following the shut down, the pond will be drained to allow for the works which will be in the tunnel. The stations will be brought back into service on Saturday 15th April in the evening. 124 MW will therefore be taken out of the generation capacity during these two days,” explained Liabunya.
The shutdown of Nkula A and B Power Stations is expected to have huge impact on consumers as another utility service provider Blantyre Water Board (BWB) operations are expected to be affected.
However, Liabunya assured the nation that plans have been put in place to ensure that BWB operations are mitigated.
“Water pumping at Walkers Ferry may be affected but we are working together with Blantyre Water Board to come up with mitigation measures to avert any problems in water supply this may bring about. We will open up a channel to help BWB operate normally,” he said.
The company said was taking advantage of the holidays to undertake the maintenance works since most industries wont be operating thereby the situation is expected not to heavily impact on domestic consumers.
Egenco is expected to have another major rehabilitation works on Nkula A Power Station under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact.
The rehabilitation works to start in June this year are expected to add 12MW to the current 24MW the 50-year-old hydro power station generates on daily basis.
“The rehabilitation works will improve the power station, modernize it and extend its life span. While the main rehabilitation works for Nkula A will start in June, preparatory works are kick-starting this April. There will a total shut down of the power station for eight days during the course of the rehabilitation works,” he added.
The preparatory works will be done during the first two days of Easter period so to prevent a long duration total shut down of the Nkula A and B.
Liabunya said a solution has been devised with help of the project partners MCC and the contractor Andritz Hydro of Austria in a joint venture with Mota Engil of Portugal) where the shutdown of the whole power station will be prevented.
“Therefore only Nkula A with 24MW will be shut down while Nkula B with 100MW will still remain operational. Tedzani III power station will also start undergoing rehabilitation. This rehabilitation will also modernize and upgrade the power station. Damaged parts of equipment will be fixed and improved, state of the art equipment and technologies will be installed, and generation capacity will also be increased.
“10MW will be added to the current 52MW making it a total of 62MW. The contract for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the machines already started and part aid while in Escom and works are to start in May 2017.”
The rehabilitation of the Nkula A and Tedzani III power stations is going to add 40MW to the national generation capacity. The projects will take place within a span of one and half years.
Meanwhile, Egenco revealed despite low water levels in Lake Malawi, the situation has slightly improved between January and this month with 0.65 meters above sea level following increased rains in central and northern regions. This has resulted in the country having less blackouts in the past four days.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :