China’s help being sought on Moco Moco hydro station
--- purchasing power from Brazil under consideration
by Chamanlall Naipaul
July 17, 2003
Cabinet is moving towards boosting electricity generating capacity at Lethem following the shutdown of the Moco Moco Hydroelectric Station which was seriously damaged as a result of a landslide which occurred July 7 last.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS), Dr. Roger Luncheon at his weekly news conference yesterday said that Prime Minister Sam Hinds who has responsibility for the energy sector reported to Cabinet last Tuesday that the loss of power as a consequence of the closure of the station has had significant impact on the community, particularly the business and commercial sector.
Repairs of the damages to the station is estimated to cost $50-$60M and between six to eighteen months to complete, Dr. Luncheon reported. He said Cabinet has mandated the Prime Minister to seek technical assistance from China in restoring the station to full-capacity service.
The Chinese government had provided funding and technical assistance for the construction of the station.
The Prime Minister indicated to Cabinet that additional generating capacity through diesel generation is being immediately sought as the present standby generator providing electricity does not have the capacity to meet the current demand, thus there has been rationing of the supply. In addition, alternative proposals are under consideration, among which is the possibility of purchasing of power from Bom Fein, in neighbouring Brazil, Dr. Luncheon said.
Responding to a suggestion that the landslide may have been caused by dynamiting of the mountain, Dr. Luncheon rejected this assumption stating that geo-technical studies of the area provided the basis for the construction of the Station, and one would have to assume that the landslide was a result of weathering and natural events associated with mountainous terrain.
“The technical studies that were done provided the basis for establishing the hydropower and the particular needs for its construction and its operation. The assumption would have to be that it would be an event (landslide) outside of those possibilities studied in the design that contributed to this problem that recently occurred. In other words, the fact that they may or may not have been geo-technical problems that must have been factored into the design stage of the construction and dealt with adequately. So we would have to assume that, indeed, it was the mudslide; it was the weather; it was a combination of natural events unplanned and unfactored into the design that resulted in the disruption of the power Station,” Dr. Luncheon offered.
The Moco-Moco Hydropower Plant in Lethem was built with funding and technical assistance from the Chinese government, and has a capacity of 0.5 megawatt. The project, completed three years ago, is providing electricity for residents in Lethem and its environs.
During the period of execution of the project the Government received technical support in the form of local and overseas training for Guyanese technicians and in the maintenance of the plant.