Plan to allow private sector to construct transmission lines in disarray

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    KATHMANDU, Jan 14

    powerlinesThe plan to allow the private sector to construct transmission line has remained just that due to the delay by Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) in taking a decision on the model of investment.

    The NEA board last year had agreed in principle to pave the way for private sector to construct transmission lines after NEA failed to do so on its won. The recommendation task force formed after that has prepared its report about investment model and sent it to NEA board for approval but the report has failed to become a priority for the board. The task force was formed under Joint Secretary at the Energy Ministry Keshav Dhwaj Adhikari after the agreement in principle, and it had submitted the report a long time ago. Construction of many small and big projects has been affected due to lack of adequate transmission lines near different rivers. Promoters have complained that many projects could not be constructed due to lack of transmission lines.

    Promoter of the 12 MW Upper Khimti and 7 MW Upper Khimti 2 projects, Himalaya Energy Development Company, has proposed to construct transmission line itself after NEA could not immediately construct it. But it has not been able to construct transmission line as NEA has yet to approve investment model. Himalaya is waiting for NEA’s permission to construct 40 km 132 KV line from Garjyang of Ramechhap to Khimti of Dolakha. Promoter Guru Prasad Neupane rued that the time for signing Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is getting delayed and the banks are also reluctant to invest as NEA has not taken a decision long after it has submitted application. “We will start work for transmission line once NEA clarifies on the investment model. We are ready to construct transmission line at the government rate. They should just give permission,” he added.

    Acting deputy managing director at the Grid Development Directorate of NEA Pushpa Raj Khadka stated that the draft of investment model about handing over construction of transmission lines to the private sector has been sent to NEA board for approval and revealed that it will be implemented immediately after the board decision. Though the board had first given approval in principle as per the build-ownership transfer (BOT) model, the task force has removed that and recommended a model that allows promoters to recover all the investment in 15 years on installment. The BOT model has been changed as the transmission line would be NEA’s after 15 years. NEA should pay back the investment to promoters in installment after completion of transmission line.

    The task force had recommended to allow the private sector to construct transmission lines worth around Rs 500 million in the first stage. The cost of transmission lines built by NEA will be used as reference. The majority of projects, that have signed PPA with NEA, have been affected due to the delay in construction of transmission lines. NEA has signed PPA with 152 promoters for 2000 MW electricity until now. The electricity generated during the monsoon season is being wasted in lack of big transmission lines.

    The government is preparing a master plan to construct transmission lines across the country targeting the additional projects to be built in the coming days. Electricity de France has already been contracted to prepare the master plan within one and half years of starting work.

    Source : Baburam Khadka / Karobar Daily