Liberian officials and engineers at the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant say all that is needed to be done to turn on the first turbine on December 15 has been done and on course, following repeated testing on the site.
With just few days to the commissioning exercise of the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant that will come on after it was destroyed several decades ago during Liberia’s civil conflict, the Board Chairman of the Liberia Electricity Corporation or LEC, Mr. Ian Yhap led a team of Project Implementation Unit personnel and journalists on a tour of the site on Sunday, 11 December to confirm their readiness.
Mount Coffee’s first turbine to be dedicated on December 15 is expected to distribute 22 megawatts (some 22,000 kilowatts). LEC Board Chair Mr. Yhap says all testing has proven soundness of the electrical system to meet the deadline.
Once the first turbine is commissioned, he says, LEC will be able to generate more power and distribute to larger customers at an undisclosed expected cheaper price in the future.
He says LEC has realized the importance of customers and the issues they are raising concerning their dissatisfaction over the corporation’s customer service, saying it has to change.
Mr. Yhap boasted that while customers were chasing LEC today for connection, the corporation would instead be chasing customers tomorrow to get connected because they got to be connected.
He expressed happiness to work on such an amazing project, and thanked President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf and her government as well as friendly governments including Norway, Germany and the European Investment Bank and others for supporting the project.
During the tour, there were visits at the Intake and the Spillway which controls the water level. The Spillway which has ten gates currently has one of its gates opened to allow water flow from the St. Paul River due to the dry season when water levels are low.
The hydro will require seven of the ten gates to be functional particularly during rainy seasons when water levels are high.
The Deputy Project Manager Mr. Emmanuel A. Lawrence says all of the things that are required to be put in place for the commissioning of the first turbine on December 15 have been put in place.
He said due to lesson learnt from the destruction of the hydro during the 1990 civil war here, a buffer zone has been created at Mount Coffee to prevent its destruction again in case of civil unrest or high level water flow.
He strongly appealed to Liberians not to target the hydro or hospitals or schools whenever there is conflict, saying rebuilding of such places require so much money that sometimes comes from other people.
Normal flow of water at the hydro is expected between 27 to 29 meter above sea level, but the buffer zone will absorb water in the case where there is high level during rainy season. An Interim Management Team is expected to take over the Hydro in January 2017.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah