Wind Farm faces hurdle from policy change

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The Debere Birhan Wind Farm project may be at risk since the government has changed its policy on developing new power projects in the country.

In the beginning of the current GTP the government decided that projects would be awarded through bids as opposed to negotiations.

The wind farm began when a group of Ethiopians from the Diaspora community known as Terra Energy Developers signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the former Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation to undertake a feasibility study and develop a wind farm at Debre Birhan, 130km northeast of Addis Ababa, five years ago. This included engineering, procurement, and construction.

Behailu Assefa (Eng), Chief Operating Officer of Terra, said that his company has enough money but has not gotten approval from the government.

Their study indicates that Debere Birhan has the capacity to develop 100mw energy from wind.

“We have brought a USD 220 million loan from China to implement the project,” Behailu said. He said adding that they signed the deal with EEPCo before the policy change “We have already spent about USD 10 million for the feasibility study and environmental impact assessment,” he said.

When we came for further negotiation we were told that upcoming projects would be handled under the new policy, however this is unacceptable in our case since our project began five years ago,” he told Capital.

According to Terra, the company has been selected to supply turban from the Chinese company Goldwind Global. However, the wind project has been in limbo for the last year and half.

Experts said that the policy was designed due to the interest of international companies to invest in power projects.

“The bid based contractor hiring will bring in more money to the government than negotiations will,” experts argued.

Behailu recently introduced a university entrepreneurial business development competition initiative that will create opportunities for creative engineering and business graduates. Under the initiative which will benefit the 2017 graduating students he donated 1.1 million birr to five group winners.  The initiative launched this week will include winners from Debre Birhan, Adama, Bhair Dar, Hawassa and Arba Minch.