Provide timetable – PURC directs ECG, GRIDCo, NEDCo

Mami Dufie Ofori, Executive Secretary-PURC

The Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) has directed the Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCO) to immediately draft a timetable for all planned power outages.

The move is coming at a time when many people have called for a timetable to aid in scheduling activities so they are not adversely affected by the recent intermittent power cuts being experienced in some parts of the country.

A communication from the PURC reached offices of the utility companies this week, and the Commission expects that henceforth there will be a timetable for all planned outages.

Speaking to the B&FT, Head of Public Relations and External Affairs at the PURC, Bawah Munkaila said: “For the timetable, we recognise that it depends on the situation at hand in any particular point of time; but the Commission has instructed that utility providers should by way of a schedule inform the general public about any planned outage that is going to occur in the coming days.

“Some of the outages are emergencies and it is difficult to envisage a trip or system failure; nonetheless, we have asked the utility companies to present the timetable for all their planned outages.”

The Commission has however expressed great worry over the recent power challenges, and has set up a hearing-panel to investigate some of the outage experiences in the immediate past. It has also stepped-up monitoring efforts of the utility system to ensure that they do not take the public for granted.

“As much as the Commission protects the interest of utility providers we care for the consumer as well, so it is a 50-50 issue. When we realise that the utility provider is doing something that goes against the interests of consumers, we come in and ensure corrective measures are taken.”

ACEP prognosis

The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has said that the current power outages largely result from the country’s failure to upgrade transmission infrastructure and improve revenue collection and management.

Although ACEP described the distribution sector as the most significant segment of the power sector value chain for financial sustainability of the sector, it lamented that longstanding problems such as obsolete infrastructure, and equipment and transmission losses have received less attention over the years; thereby paving the way for current challenges.

IES prognosis

The Institute of Energy Security (IES) has said gains made toward returning the economy to a growth path are at risk of being eroded by recent power transmission challenges.

The economy contracted in the second and third quarters of 2020 by recording a recession – the first time in 37 years, due to impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Government’s revised full year growth was pegged at 1.9 percent, and government is hoping to achieve an improved 5 percent growth this year.

However, the recent power outages across the country, IES says, are frustrating the smooth running of businesses and homes alike; and will pose a threat to economic recovery from the pandemic shock if necessary action is not taken.

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