Sustaining efficient power supply

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The country has experienced one of the longest power-rationing exercises in recent history which has taken a big toll on business and domestic endeavours.

Last year, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) began a load-shedding exercise after the destruction of one of the pipelines of the West African Gas Pipeline Company, thereby affecting gas supply to Ghana to power our thermal plants.

The utility providers also need petrol to power other generating sets to increase our capacity to supply power for domestic and industrial use and this has imposed additional cost on the power companies, as the fuel has to be procured at extra cost, although tariffs remain the same.

For some time now, the power companies have been knocking at the doors of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) for an upward adjustment in tariffs, with the explanation that they are operating at a loss.

As if that is not enough, consumers, particularly the government, individuals and institutions, owe the power companies millions of cedis in unpaid bills. Illegal connections also deny these companies revenue.

Fortunately, President John Mahama, at the National Prayer and Thanksgiving Service in Accra last Sunday, announced that load-shedding during off-peak hours was over and that by the end of this month load-shedding would become a thing of the past.

To be frank, before the President made the announcement, some level of improvement had been noticed in power generation, as power rationing was not as intense as it had been before.

The President was at Atuabo in the Western Region last Monday to inspect work in the early phase of the Gas Infrastructure Project. The same day, he cut the sod at Aboadze for expansion works on the Takoradi 2 (T2) thermal  plant to generate an additional 110 megawatts (MW)  of power.

At a meeting with editors at the Flagstaff House in Accra recently, he gave reasons for our present predicament, explaining that we were in that position because of our failure to invest more in the power sector.

As a nation, we have many development gaps that require more investment if our development efforts must  yield the desired results.

We know that majority of our people are living below the poverty line and require central government support or a safety net to attain better standard of living.

The Daily Graphic asks whether the people are ready now to pay realistic tariffs to enable the power companies to run efficiently.

But the people see many inefficiencies around all these state institutions, with some of their workers conniving with certain unscrupulous elements in society to steal power and water through illegal connections.

Our leaders are there to direct the affairs of state in order to avoid the state of nature. But since governance is a collective venture, without the support of the people the government cannot achieve much, no matter how committed and patriotic its functionaries are.

The lessons of the load-shedding exercise should guide us to make the right investment decisions, including what tariffs to pay to maintain an efficient power system.

In the past, similar assurances were made about plans to make load-shedding a thing of the past. Those plans might not have worked because we did not put the right systems in place to make our plans a reality.

Let us resolve now to get the right generation mix and pay economic tariffs to sustain the power companies.