New power station opens in Lae
By Eileen Lloyd
PNG Power kept its promise to the people of Lae City and Morobe Province to improve the power supply by presenting them with the 12Mw Taraka Power Station as a Christmas gift on December 22, 2009.
The temporary power station holding eight 1.5Mw containerised generators was completed in four months to be presented to the people of Lae before Christmas.
“We did it, we kept our promise to you people of Lae. This is the only gift for Christmas, you will have light for your Christmas celebrations,” Acting CEO, Mr Lawrence Solomon said during the official opening.
Mr Solomon told the public and especially the Governor of Morobe, Mr Luther Wenge, who had been a strong critic of PPL that the unreliable power supply to the Lae City was mainly due to the aging machines at Ramu Hydro Power Station and Milfordhaven Thermal Power Station.
Mr Solomon told the governor that the new power station would not entirely remove all the problems from Lae City but reduce the outage times or load shedding period as the Milfordhaven power station also had machines that were 20-30 years old and were giving huge maintenance problems.
“Lae power supply has not been reliable and we are doing something about it and now we are witnessing efforts of the board and management to improve the reliability.
He said maintenance was quite costly and the company was looking at the option of constructing a new power station but it needed land to build a power station.
Mr Solomon said PPL was currently constructing the Yonki TOD Power Station which would be connected to the Ramu grid but the capacity would be taken by the Hidden Valley and Wafi Gold Mines.
He said the construction of another hydro power station, the 240Mw Ramu Two, was in the pipeline but for it to be developed, it needed major investments and also there had to be the need or demand to justify construction of this huge power station.
Mr Solomon said the demand for electricity was increasing and PPL was looking at other cheaper alternatives to produce electricity as hydro was capital intensive and PPL did not have the money to build new hydro stations.
Mr Wenge in his response apologised for attacking PPL for the poor electricity supply to Lae but said PPL should understand that Lae was the second biggest city and the industrial hub and the requirement for electricity was high.
“I ask for your forgiveness, but I was put under pressure and concern from the public and now I am convinced to a certain degree,” he said.
Mr Wenge said electricity supply was vital in PNG’s development and he hoped the government would quickly
realise this to make sure PPL was in a position to power the nation’s growth.
On PPL’s request for land to build a new power station, Mr Wenge said all state land was taken already, however he said customary land which belonged to the Ahi people was available.
He said PPL and the landowners could enter into a joint venture where PPL provided the technical advice and
the people owned the power station.
Mr Wenge said another alternative was for the people of Nawae or Ahi to build a power station and sell the power back to PPL.
After the speeches Mr Wenge, Nawae MP Mr Timothy Bonga and Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry President, Mr Allan Mclay officially switched on the generators.