The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has ordered the Upper Marshyangdi-A Hydropower Project to shut down production four days after the plant started generating electricity, project officials said.

    Energy Minister Janardan Sharma had announced the commencement of commercial operation at a special programme organised in Kathmandu on Monday while lawmaker Bhisma Nath Adhikari had inaugurated the plant amid a ceremony at the project site in Bhulbhule, Lamjung. “The state-owned utility ordered the project to stop producing power which had been fed to the national grid saying that the starting date of commercial generation was yet to be decided. According to the NEA, the project is scheduled to begin commercial power generation in mid-October,” said Karna Adhikari, public relations officer of the project.

    However, NEA Managing Director Kulman Ghising claimed that the authority had given no such instruction. “To my knowledge, the project is still in the test generation phase, and it has stopped generating power to resolve some technical difficulties that have arisen,” said Ghising.

    Another project source confirmed that the plant had been shut down to sort out a few technical issues that surfaced after it came online. The dam sluice gates have been fully opened to divert the water into the river so that maintenance work can be carried out.

    A joint-venture of China’s Sino Hydro and Sagarmatha Power Company, the run-of-the-river project was started in 2012. Sino Hydro holds a 90 percent stake in the project while Sagarmatha Power Company owns the rest of the shares.

    Upper Marshyangdi-A is the first hydropower project built with foreign direct investment. According to project officials, the total cost of the project stands at Rs16 billion. The construction of the project was largely affected by last year’s earthquakes and border blockade.

    The 50 MW project has two turbines, each generating 25 MW of electricity. The powerhouse is located at Bhulbhule-3 and a 6.5-km-long tunnel has been constructed to deliver water to the powerhouse from the dam site located at Bhulbhule-5.

    The NEA is yet to construct a transmission line to evacuate all the electricity generated by the project. After the NEA failed to build the power line, the project itself erected a single circuit transmission line to evacuate power. However, it lacks the capacity to transmit all the power generated by the plant.

    Due to the absence of an appropriate transmission line, only 25 MW of the power generated can be fed into the national grid. The project has been complaining about the NEA’s tardiness in building the transmission line.

    “Due to the NEA’s incompetence, only half of the total power generated is connected to the national grid,” said the project source.

    The electricity produced by the second turbine will be added to the national grid after three months, according to the project. When the plant goes into full production, it will generate 317 million units of electricity annually.

    Source : eKantipur