Worried over Ibom Power Plant's major constraint, which is the transmission system, the Federal Government, at the weekend commenced the upgrade of the transmission line between Eket and Uyo, as well as Uyo and Itu, all in Akwa Ibom State
The existing transmission line can only allow the power plant to evacuate a maximum of 70megawatts, instead of an optimum average of 173MW.
Power for consumers in Akwa Ibom State is provided through a 132kV transmission line which runs from Ibom Power Plant in the South through Eket and Uyo to Itu in the North where it connects to other parts of the national grid.
THISDAY gathered that the part of the line between Ibom Power Plant and Eket, which was constructed at the same time as the power plant can carry over 200MW, but the older line between Eket, Uyo and Itu can only carry 75MW.
The upgrade of the transmission line, which commenced during the weekend as part of the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), will be executed in two phases, with the first phase covering Eket to Uyo expected to last for 40 days.
Explaining the scope of work, an official of the power plant confirmed at the weekend that during the period of the upgrade or restringing of the line, Ibom Power Plant would provide power for consumers in Eket and its environs.
He however stated that the national grid would provide power for consumers served by Uyo and Itu substations.
"Should Ibom Power Plant be tripped during this time, it will be necessary for the contractor to reconnect the 132kV line on which it is working so that Ibom Power Plant can synchronise back to the grid. The Eket-Uyo line will then be disconnected and the work of the contractor will proceed. In the event that the Ibom Power Plant is tripped, the reconnection of the line by the contractor may take up to a day or more depending on the stage of the work that the contractor has attained and this could affect power deliver to Eket and environs while the reconnection is in progress," he said..
According to him, after the Eket-Uyo segment had been completed, the contractor would start work on the Uyo-Itu portion.
He noted that during this phase, Ibom Power Plan would provide consumers served by Eket and Uyo substations, while the national grid would provide consumers served by Itu substation.
"These works will be carried out as expeditiously as possible and with the minimum of effect on consumers in the state," he added.
The upgrade of this line was in its development stage as at 2004 and work was started by the NIPP team in 2005 and 2006 but temporarily stalled between early 2007 and late 2009.
When the development was restarted in 2009, the scheme was reduced to a re-stringing exercise only due to the very high cost of compensation demanded for a complete new line.