The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa has assured the country that the closure of Isimba dam and the importation of power from Kenya will not lead to an increase of power tariffs.
She reassured Ugandans 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 told Parliament yesterday.
The 183MW Isimba Hydropower power plant in Kayunga district experienced a shut down on Monday, 08 August 2022.
Briefing the MPs on the incident, Nankabirwa told them that the plant flooded because of maintenance works.
“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,” said Nankabirwa.
She said that as 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 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 clarified that the country’s installed power generation capacity is 1378.1 MW, which indicates excess generation relative to the country’s peak system demand of 900 megawatts, including 50 megawatts of power export 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.
Bugabula County South MP, Maurice Kibalya however asked the minister to take keen interest in the actual cause of the total shutdown, saying that it was intentional.
“The issue that happened was not flooding; the issue was technical and there are chances that they are intentional. Pick interest in the cost of thermal after shutdown of Isimba, you will see. Some of these things are not by accident and mistake,” said Kibalya.
Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa referred the matter to the committee on Natural Resources and gave a three weeks’ ultimatum for presentation of the report.
He urged the minister to address the mismatch between consumable capacity, installed capacity and generation capacity.