Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

26 June 2014

Tanzania: TANESCO Starts Probe Into Tuesday Power Outage

TANZANIA Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) is investigating the source of fault that plunged the country into total darkness for a number of hours on Tuesday evening.

The fault, which caused the blackout countrywide for over three hours, occurred from 7:00pm to around 10:00pm, disrupting a number of socio-economic activities.

The power utility's Managing Director, Mr Felichesmi Mramba, told the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam that their engineers were still busy -- working hard to find the cause of the blackout. "The only way we can identify the cause for the blackout is through data analysis from the information available prior to the electric shutdown.

This is what we are trying to work upon right now. However, it takes time to collect data from all regions," Mr Mramba explained. He further noted that the cause of the problem will be known after 24 hours from the time the blackout occurred. "Most probably today a clear-cut explanation over the incident will be available," he said.

Mr Mramba pointed out that the power cut occurred unexpectedly following an abrupt switching off of the power generators. He said that the incident could have either been caused by one of the power plants in Kidatu, Mtera, Kihansi, Hale, New Pangani, Nyumba ya Mungu, Ubungo or Tegeta grids tripping off.

"Sometimes when big customers like mining operators or large industries shut their machines abruptly, it causes all power generators to shut down," he stated.

"We immediately worked on restoring electricity, starting with the Mtera Power Station, which supplies power to several areas, including Dodoma where the Bunge session was in progress. Soon after that, production at the Kidatu Power Plant, which supplies power to Morogoro and Dar es Salaam, resumed.

In so doing, other gas power plants were also restored," he added. Moreover, Acting TANESCO Public Relations Manager, Mr Adrian Severin said what occurred on Tuesday evening was "an emergency and an unusual event that is not expected to happen the way it did, causing the whole national grid to switch off."

Mr Severin added that in other countries, such incidents do not occur as they produce spinning reserve through other means that generate electricity like coal, which does not shut down - restoring standby electricity in case of any power outage.

Meanwhile, HENRY LYIMO reports from Dodoma that power sales agreement between TANESCO and an investor of Ngaka Coal Mine, TANCOAL has been delayed due to prolonged negotiations on the power price.

The Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, Mr Charles Kitwanga, said in the Parliament that TANESCO wanted to buy electricity for 8 US cents per one unit, which will benefit the nation while the investor wanted to sell for between 10 and 13 US cents per unit.

He said the two sides were continuing with negotiations until they reach a consensus and it was the intention of the government that power generation contracts do benefit the nation.

Mr Kitwanga was responding to a question from Mr Gaudence Kayombo (Mbinga East - CCM), who wanted to know about government's plans to enable TANESCO, National Development Corporation (NDC) and STAMICO build coal-fired power generation plants using Ngaka coal resources.

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