The Isimba hydro-power dam was shut down last week following the flooding of the powerhouse that houses generators and turbines. This has led to power outages in the country for the past one week.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Energy Minister, Ruth Nankabirwa finally commented on the shutdown of the 183megawatt Isimba dam that she admitted happened on Monday last week.
“The shutdown was due to operational challenges that led to the flow of water into the powerhouse. The shutdown was undertaken as a safety procedure to ensure the safety of staff and protection of electro-mechanical equipment,” Nankabirwa the minister of Energy and Mineral Development said.
“There will be emergency load shedding in certain parts of the country and Some customers may be affected but the teams are working to ensure power supply from other sources,” Umeme spokesperson, Peter Kaujju said last week.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Energy Minister said the operator of the dam, UETCL is undertaking measures to ensure power production is restored at Isimba but said this will be done in a period of three weeks.
“The Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) is undertaking measures to ensure continuity of electricity supply including importation of 60 megawatts of power from Kenya,”Nankabirwa said.
The amount of electricity produced in Uganda is expected to increase to over 2,000MW by end of 2022 with the addition of the Karuma dam which produces 600MW, Kikagati (16MW), and Nyamagasani I (15MW) as well as other small hydro power plants.
“UETCL is undertaking suspension of any planned and non-emergency shutdown or outage permits and also undertaking the implementation of load shedding to balance power demand and supply and ensure that grid stability is achieved and sustained,”Nankabirwa said.
Isimba dam was Commissioned in 2019, and it cost $567.7 million (Shs2.1 trillion) with China’s EXIM bank contributing the largest part of the funds (85%) whereas the Uganda government contributed 15%. The dam added 183 megawatts of electricity to the national grid.
With the current shutdown of Isimba, the country should expect power outages on several occasions after the government directed UETCL to ensure the implementation of load shedding to balance power demand and supply.
This means that whereas some areas will have power, others will not and vice versa for the next three weeks as works to rectify the glitch at the 183 megawatt Isimba dam continue.
The government has announced that it has started importing a certain percentage of electricity for use in the country from neighbouring Kenya following an emergency shutdown at Isimba down.