A member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Energy, Hon. William Owuraku Aidoo says the current energy crisis is as a result of government’s unpreparedness to provide funds to the Volta River Authority to buy light crude to power its generators.
Hon. Aidoo says the Minister of Energy, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah was being “economical” with the truth on the energy crisis.
Aidoo who was speaking to Accra-based Joy FM, said the challenges have been with the generation of power by the VRA and this is because government has failed to provide the needed funds to the Authority to import the light crude oil it needs to generate power.
“The problem we are having is because the government is not providing the funds for VRA to import the light crude to power those generators. The gas from Nigeria is unreliable so we are left with having to purchase crude. It is an economic fundamental problem by the way of government not providing money to VRA to import the light crude oil.”
The country is suffering an erratic power supply and according to managers of the energy sector, the crisis is partly due to the instability in power generation and gas supply from the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAGPCo) to operate its thermal power plants.
However, according to Mr Aidoo, although the insufficient gas from WAGPCo is partly to blame for the crisis, government has also failed to put in the right measures to ensure constant flow of gas needed to power the generators at VRA.
He also revealed that the Bui Power Authority was operating at less than half capacity, providing only 90 megawatts instead of its 400 installed capacity.
“Water levels at Bui are not the best. At Akosombo we are having serious problems there. The water level there is extremely alarming,” he said.
Mr Aidoo also expressed his frustration at the number of promises being made by President Mahama and the Energy Minister over the power situation in the country which started in 2012.
President Mahama on two occasions said normal supply of power would resume in October 2012 and November 2013 respectively, but both dates were missed.
The Minister of Energy also gave a timeline to end the crisis, saying that the load shedding would end by the first week of May 2014.
However, according to Mr Aidoo, those promises are one too many, saying, “I don’t understand why the minister and the president keep giving timelines to Ghanaians that in January this is going to finish, in May this is going to finish only for the goal post to be pushed …if they don’t know they should just keep quiet and spare us.”
“I was told on authority that Ghana Gas was coming on at the end of the first quarter from the highest body only to be told this morning by the minister that it will come on at the end of the last quarter and I will not be surprised if the goal post is shifted again. So if you are not sure just don’t keep telling Ghanaians that this is going to happen…”
IPPs won’t solve problems
The Minister of Energy has issued invitations to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to invest in the country’s energy sector.
However, Mr Aidoo says even if the IPPs come on board, it will not end the power crisis and called on government to look for a long term solution to the problem.
“What fuel are we going to use to generate those thermal plants that those IPPs are going to put up? Even Aboadze, gas from Atuabo will not be enough to generate the installed capacities at the Aboadze corridor.
“In the long term, what government needs to do is to provide funds for VRA to provide light crude oil to augment the limited gas from the West African Gas Pipeline. If and when that comes, most of our problems will be reduced,” he said.
Mr Aidoo further called for intensive education of the public on the need to conserve power.
He said, “Ghanaians for years have had very cheap power and as a people it has not been inculcated in us to conserve power. We need to intensify the education so that Ghanaians will get his habit of conserving power.”
“And if you will remember in 2007, when the low consuming bulbs were imported by the NPP government it reduced the demand by 200 megawatts and if today we get 200 megawatts, it will save us a lot of inconvenience,” he added.