The Bui Power Authority says the dam will return to its full generation capacity by July, when the flow of water into its reservoir is expected to improve significantly.
The 400 -megawatt hydro-power installation has currently shut down two of its three turbines and stopped generating active power.
Instead, the dam is producing reactive power, a remedy for low system voltage, by means of air and a single turbine according to Wombila Salifu, External and Community Relations Manager of Bui Power Authority.
“We have not shut down,” he said in an interview, adding: “we are not generating active power with water now due to the low water level. We are running one unit now and producing 50 vars of reactive power”.
He further stated: “According to the weather pattern over the years, we expect to return to full generation by July. In July, August and September, we get a lot of inflow into the reservoir. At the moment we are getting some inflow, but it’s small. If we get a level of water that is adequate, we will produce”.
The reactive power being produced will boost voltage in the northern part of the country to the transmission network requirement of 161 kilowatts, he said.
Bui has a maximum water level of 183 metres above sea level (masl) and a minimum operating level of 168 masl. But in a statement issued last week the Authority said it has been over-drafting – drawing more water from the reservoir for power generation — in response to inadequate electricity generation from the Volta River Authority, which provides 75 percent of the country’s power needs.
The Authority noted with great concern that “as a result of the Bui reservoir reaching the minimum operating level, the rate of power generation has been reduced in order to protect the turbines from potential damage.
This is because it is imprudent to operate the generating plant below the minimum operating level of the reservoir, as this unduly exposes the turbines to higher risks of damage”.
Bui’s partial shutdown has compounded the generational shortage, causing the Electricity Company of Ghana to cut supply to households.
The power cuts will however be minimised during the ongoing World Cup, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) announced this week.
The PURC said it has agreed with the utility service providers that “all available generating units should be on- stream during the tournament, and maintenance personnel will be posted to man critical substations and installations during the match periods to ensure expeditious restoration of electricity in the unlikely event of an unplanned outage or emergency”. It said the country will buy 50 megawatts of extra power from Cote d’Ivoire, and VALCO’s consumption will be reduced on days when the Black Stars are playing.
But this contingency plan does not mean a complete end to power cuts, it stressed.
“It should be noted that these plans are put in place for consumers to watch uninterrupted football matches during the World Cup tournament, ;but within these arrangements the load- shedding schedule, though varied, still exists.”