General News of Tuesday, 27 November 2018
The Minority is insisting that the current power outages being experienced across the country are as a result of a lack of cash and not technical as the Energy Minister claims.
During the peak of the outages last week, the Minority accused government of failing to pay debts owed the power producers. Failure to pay these debts in their view was the cause of the outages.
But the Energy Minister, Peter Amewu at a joined press conference with ECG, VRA and GRIDCO on Monday in Accra said the Minority’s claims were untrue.
Although he admits that there still remains some part of the debt to be settled, he denied it was the reason for the outages.
But the Minority’s Spokesperson on Energy Adam Mutawakilu said had government not had liquidity challenges, it would have been able to purchase crude to address the issues.
“Why we have liquidity challenge and not technical is that most of our power plants are dual fuel powered plants. This means that they can use gas or liquid fuel so if gas is not available you switch to light crude oil. So if the minister says that because of a trip of gas supply Aboadze thermal plant is down, that means they couldn’t buy light crude oil such that when this plant goes down you switch to the other …”
“So the main problem is liquidity challenges such that western gas pipeline goes down and we have to experience prolonged ‘ dumsor’, that is clear liquidity challenge,” he said.
Mr Mutawakilu who is also MP for Damango said the development smacks of incompetence.
For them, a drop in gas supply should not result in power outages because at any point in time, if government had the monetary capacity, it would have purchased crude and stored it pending any challenges with the gas supply.
“In the power sector, you always have reserved margin, and you must pay for it so that in case of an emergency, they come on board. So whether we like it or not, we must have the reserve margin.
But with these difficulties, we could not take advantage of it and that is a sign of incompetence,” he added.
The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) wants a more concrete approach to be adopted in solving the challenges power producers face which results in the constant outages.
Its Executive Director, Ben Boakye says a sustainable approach will be to take government’s hands off the power sector.
“So long as you have a situation where government has to come in, where you have a minister issuing statements and telling you why there is a crisis, I don’t think you’re taking away the problem.
“You need to have a functioning power system that can function as a business, generate power, sell it and raise enough money to be able to offset its own financial situation without having recourse to the ministry which is supposed to be facilitating policy rather than the business angle of the sector.
He stresses the need for a system that works independently from politics and once that is done, the issues with power outages may hardly occur.