First twin dam project to secure 700 mln USD

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The latest hydroelectric power project on the menu of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), Halele-Werabesa Hydropower plant, which has a generating capacity of 422MW, is to attract USD 700 million in finance from the World Bank group.

The power project, located some 70km from the town of Welkite, 153 km south-west of the capital, is the only power project in Ethiopia with twin-dams structure to date. According to the plan, the two dams are constructed in the Halele and Werabesa Rivers some 30 km apart. Although the feasibility study and other geological studies have been completed, the corporation has suspended the project in spite of unreserved interest from financiers. The corporation at the time (2 and 3 years back) had five power projects running and hence decided to hold it until the present, MiheretDebebe, CEO of EEPCo said.  Energy experts of the bank have conducted a field visit on the project site and reviewed the feasibility study carefully before submitting an application to finance the twin-dam project.  The project, which is expected to take a minimum of five years, is estimated to cost between USD 650 and 700 million. The estimated project cost also includes the budget for a 79km transmission line that carry the generated electric power. According to an estimate made by EEPCo, the power plant is expected to generate 2,300 GWH of energy annually.   According to the country-director, Guang Zen Chen, the bank has strong interest to fully finance the project and following subsequent discussions with EEPCo proposal for financing would be submitted to the bank’s governing body.  If things go according to plan, the project would commence in 2013 by the latest and see start operations in 2018, Miheret says. According to the CEO, Halele-Werabesa is attractive to financiers as it is one of the power stations that are very close to the load center (Addis Ababa and the surrounding). On the other hand, the construction of the dams is relatively easily attracting additional interest. However, further amendments and revisions of the feasibility study are being conducted at the moment to fit the energy project requirements of the bank.  “Additional geological and other studies are under way at moment from our side. The aim is to bring up to speed the previously conducted studies and prepare for implementation,” Miheret explained. And as soon as the finance is obtained, EEPCo is preparing to float the bid to award the construction work.

(The Ethiopian Reporter)