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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Energy Minister Blames Isimba Hydropower Plant Shutdown on Maintenance Works

The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa has defended the emergency shutdown at Isimba Hydropower plant on Maintenance works that caused flooding at the plant on Monday, 08 August 2022.

The Minister was on Thursday 18th August 2022 responding to Members of Parliament who said the shutdown was due to corruption and connivance amongst the Ministry officials.

The 183 megawatts Isimba Hydropower plant in Kayunga district experienced a shut down on Monday, 08 August 2022.

Nankabirwa said that one of the generating units was out of use to allow the contractor to undertake routine maintenance.

 “One of the generating units was out of use to allow the contractor to undertake routine maintenance, at the time of the incident, the scheduled works included installation and testing of equipment supplied by the contractor for safe access to the powerhouse,” Nankabirwa said.

The operations and maintenance team at the Uganda Electricity Generation Company (UEGCL) was attempting to create a safe working environment within the powerhouse working area, a malfunction occurred, causing the flow of water into the powerhouse.

“Consequently, dam safety procedures were automatically triggered to ensure the safety of staff, protection of equipment and production, and prevention of potential dam failure. Investigations are underway to establish the cause of this incident,” Nankabirwa said.

She reassured MPs that appropriate measures are being undertaken to restore power production within three weeks.

“In these three weeks, we have decided to use the manual mode; the plant has two systems, automated and manual. Within three weeks, we will begin the generation but not in full capacity, full capacity will start in six weeks,” she said.

The Minister also clarified that the country’s installed power generation capacity is 1378.1 megawatts, which indicates excess generation relative to the country’s peak system demand of 900 megawatts, including 50 megawatts of power exported to Kenya.

“It is important to note that without major breakdowns on the system like loss of a major generation facility as we have experienced with Isimba Hydropower plant, Uganda’s current total generation capacity is sufficient to meet our current electricity demands,” she said.

Nankabirwa added that power from some of the plants is not fully evacuated due to lack of transmission and distribution infrastructure.

The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa referred the matter to the Committee on Natural Resources and gave a three weeks ultimatum the presentation of the report.

“Please ensure that you do not interfere with ongoing repair works; we do not want Parliament to be used as an excuse. This is a dam we commissioned not more than two years ago and we know the rain patterns. How can we say we never foresaw such a situation, can we remedy it?” he asked.

The Ministry of Energy says the most affected areas due to the plant shutdown will be Eastern, Western and Central Uganda.

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