The Ethiopian Electric, the sole power utility company, is contemplating to rehabilitate two hydro-power dams.
A senior official at the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy told The Reporter that the Ethiopian Electric is anticipating the rehabilitation of the Melka Wakena and Koka hydro-power stations. In a bid to enhance the generation capacity of the power stations, Ethiopian Electric wants to undertake the rehabilitation work.
The official said a Russian company called Inter RAO has shown a keen interest to rehabilitate the Melka Wakena hydro-power plant found in the Bale zone, Oromia Regional State.
The Melka Wakena hydro-power station has an installed generation capacity of 153 MW. The power plant has four units each with a generation capacity of 38.5 MW. It was the largest power station in the country until Gilgel Gibe I power station (184 MW) became operational in 2004.
Melka Wakena power station was built by Russia and Yugoslav energy firms in 1989 at the behest of the Derg regime. The Russians undertook the civil work while the electro-mechanical work was carried out by a Yugoslav company called Energo Invest," the official said.
At the moment, representatives of Inter RAO are holding talks with officials of the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy and Ethiopian Electric. The work includes the maintenance, repair and overhaul of the power units. "The power plant is currently operating. However, the rehabilitation work is believed to enhance the performance of the power plant," the official said.
The cost of the rehabilitation work is not yet determined. Inter RAO will present financial and technical proposals which will be evaluated by experts from Ethiopian Electric. Ethiopian Electric will present the proposal to the board of directors for endorsement.
Inter RAO is expected to secure a loan from the Russian government for the rehabilitation project. "This is a bilateral cooperation issue," the official said. According to the official, the issue will be addressed when the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, visits Addis Ababa next month.
Inter RAO was established in 1997 as a subsidiary of RAO Systems of Russia focused on the export-import of electricity. "Inter RAO keeps expanding its portfolio of power generation and supply assets while also actively developing other lines of business, primarily engineering for electric power industry," the company's official website states.
Ethiopian Electric is also contemplating the idea of rehabilitating the historic Koka hydro-power station. Koka power station, which has an installed generation capacity of 43 MW, was built in 1960 by the Italian government as compensation for the atrocities committed by fascist Italy during the 1936 - 1941 occupation of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia currently generates 2,268 MW from hydro, wind, geothermal and thermal energy. The Ethiopian government is currently building power plants with a total installed generating capacity of 8450 MW - the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (6000 MW), the Gilgel Gibe III (1870 MW), Genale Dawa (254 MW), Adama II wind power project (153 MW) and the 70 MW rift valley geothermal power project.