Blackout during AU Summit under investigation


A team comprising of officials from the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) and other relevant government offices is undertaking an investigation into the cause of the blackout that occured during the AU Summit.  
The unfortunate power blackout occurred while Ethiopia was hosting thousands of guests who came to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the OAU/AU.  According to Capital sources, the Saturday June 1st blackout that temporarily disrupted the celebration at the Millennium Hall, where several heads-of-state from the continent and other countries were present, is believed to be related to a technical problem at Tana Beles power plant. Our sources indicated that an investigation team, which includes high-level officials and technical experts, visited the Tana Beles Electric Power Station 530km north of Addis where the problem is said to have originated, to look into the problem.
Even though electric power blackouts occur now and then, EEPCo seems to have been unprepared for such eventuality during the summit, our sources said. These sources also indicated that some officials who hold positions of responsibility at the station and distribution center have been temporarily suspended from duty pending the completion of the investigation. The team has investigated and conducted evaluations at the station and transmission line, although a detailed explanation has yet to be released by the government.
Misikir Negash, Public Relations Head of EPPCo, told Capital that the investigation hasn’t yet been completed and that the results will be disclosed soon. He denied the reports that some employees and members of the management of the Tana Beles station have been suspended.
The state-owned corporation is the sole provider of electricity and has completed several electric power projects including hydro and wind powers projects in the past few years.  To prevent such black outs, EEPCo is working diligently on other electric projects in the country to generate up to 10,000MW of electric power by the end of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), a significant increase from the current 2,100MW supply.
While it accomplished the construction and operation of significant electric power projects successfully, including Gilgel Gibe II (420MW), Tana Beles (460MW), Tekeze (300MW) and the Adama Wind Farm (51MW) in the past three years, power shortage is still a major challenge for the country’s economy. For instance, EEPCo’s new evaluation indicates that it needs an additional 200MW electric power in the coming budget year (July 8, 2013 to July 7, 2014) to satisfy demands.
To narrow the gap, the corporation is exploring various options, including thermal energy.