The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has condemned government plans to hand over a key asset of the Volta River Authority (VRA) to an independent power producer, AMERI.
It says all that government has to do is to replace some broken down turbines to get the Takoradi Thermal Plant, known as T3, working again.
Instead, government is contracting AMERI to repair it and operate it for five years.
“That is quite strange that somebody should just install a component of the plant and own the plant,” ACEP's Deputy Executive Director, Ben Boakye told Joy News Thursday.
“It is not only workers who should be agitated. Every Ghanaian…should be agitated because we spent over $250 million into the plant and…we are just going to hand it over to somebody,” Mr Boakye said.
About the T3
The Takoradi T3 power plant is a combined-cycle power plant at the Volta River Authority (VRA) power station at Aboadze, near Takoradi.
It was meant to expand the Takoradi Thermal Power Station capacity by 132MW. It has four 25MW units that are fuelled by gas or LCO (diesel) and an additional 32MW generated from steam.
The Government of Ghana (GoG) through the Ministry of Energy in around 2008 signed a deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) for purchase and installation of the 132MW plant.
Photo: Handing over the T3 to government in 2013
Government of Ghana (GoG) officially took over the $256 million thermal plant in April 2013, following the completion of the project and subsequent ‘successful’ performance tests conducted by the CCC. The installation was then handed over to the Volta River Authority to operate.
After operating the plants on crude oil for a period, they began experiencing some challenges. First, there was overheating in Turbine Four of the installation. The overheating, which led to an explosion, necessitated a precautionary shutdown of the four-turbine plant inaugurated just two months earlier.
This prompted a full-blown inquiry into the challenge to determine if it was a defect with the equipment or operational challenges, and who should bear the liability.
The owners of the Africa & Middle East Resource Investment (AMERI) an independent power producer which began operating in Ghana less than a year is to provide 250MW. The power plant, which arrived in the country last year, started operating on February 1, this year.
But government plans to hand over a strategic T3 in a deal described as Build Own Operate and Transfer (BOOT).
The energy think-tank in a statement said government’s contract with AMERI to BOOT the T3 is weird and ill-conceived because the plant has already been built.
“…the deal cannot be described as a BOOT. At best it can be described as Equipment Supply and Installations Contract, which VRA can deliver on given the same support,” the statement stated.
“We wish to state therefore, that if the role expected of AMERI is what is being promoted under this deal, then there is no need to cede the plant to it. It will be in the best interest of Ghana to support VRA to revive the plant,” ACEP stressed.
AMERI will not be building a power plant, it will rather have to install four turbines and then own the facility for five years using VRA staff who will operate the plant but will not be paid by AMERI.
"They will still be paid by the VRA which has invested $75.8million into the T3 but will not be able to make money out of it to pay for the loan they contracted to repair the plant," Mr Boakye disclosed.
The T3 plant
According to Mr Boakye, the turbines installed are not working because they are meant for temperate regions, not tropical Ghanaian climate. VRA has been asking government to help it raise funds to acquire a climate appropriate turbines to get the plant working.
But their request made “times without number” has fallen on deaf ears, he indicated. Government has instead gone in for AMERI to install the turbines and use the facility until 2021.
This news has angered workers of the VRA as Joy News' Ernest Asare reports that the workers were not consulted.
With red bands tied to their arms, heads and necks the workers demanded a return of the three assets-T3 plant, a mine reserve plant and a parcel of land at Kpone which government had given to a third party to manage.
A planned meeting with Acting Power Minister, Seth Terkper on Thursday did not come off because the workers demanded a forum with the entire board and management of the company.