UMEME primes for increased power supply

Umeme 2.jpgeditKAMPALA, DECEMBER 17 – Ugandan electric power distributor UMEME will be commissioning a new 40Mw substation in Namugongo on the eastern flanks of Kampala before the end of December, as part of ongoing efforts to improve supply and ready the network for future growth, officials say.

Speaking today during a media tour of the facility whose construction is at an advanced stage, UMEME Deputy MD, Mr. Sam Zimbe said the new substation would improve quality of supply by easing pressure on existing substations at Ntinda, Kireka, and Mukono.

Although current demand in the Namugongo service area is at about 15Mw, the new substation has been given a 25Mw redundancy to accommodate future growth in the fast expanding neighborhood. It has been designed to have two incoming feeders and three outward feeders to Sonde, Kyakiwajjala and Bukerere areas, explained Emmanuel Kiremire, UMEME’s Senior Manager for Technical Services.

The two incoming feeders also minimize disruption to supply in event of failure of either of the lines with supply automatically switching to the available line after one minute of outage. The double redundancy also extends to the station’s ABB supplied transformers and switch-gear that will be connected to UMEME’s SCADA system through which the distribution network can be remotely monitored.

“The switching capacity here is equivalent to about 40,000 new domestic consumers but because we have mix of commercial and domestic users we can safely accommodate 30,000 new connections,” Kiremire said adding that he expected that capacity manage growth in the load over the next 5-10 years.

“What we are doing now is to improve the quality of supply and also ready the network for an anticipated increase in power supply when two new generation projects – Isimba 183Mw and Karuma 600Mw come online starting late 2016,” Kiremire further said.

Uganda currently has an installed generation base of 850 Mw but is only able to dispatch 630Mw as a result of gaps in the transmission and distribution infrastructure as well as aged conductors across the network.

UMEME which has spent $5 million on the substation and $2million on the associated feeders hopes to have added an additional 150,000 retail customers to its network by the end of this year while another 200,000 new connections and two new substations are planned for 2016. The distributor says between $80-120 million will be spent on those new investments and the customer base is expected to.

The customer base is expected to reach 1 million connections in 2016 from 800,000 today. Retail customers account for 30 percent of UMEME’s revenue. Half of these are currently connected to the pre-paid metering system resulting in significant gains for the distributor’s cash flows.

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