KATHMANDU, Oct 5: The long-delayed Chameliya Hydroelectric Project (30 MW) is finally starting generation by the end of December.
According to project officials, the peaking run-of-river project that can run in full capacity for six hours -- three hours in the morning peak time and three hours in the evening peak time - will lower power deficit in the dry months of 2017/18.
“The latest deadline for starting commercial generation is December 30. But we are trying to start generation before that,” Ajay Kumar Dahal, manager of the project, told Republica. Dahal further added that the wet testing process, which means tunnel testing by flowing water into the tunnel, will begin after two weeks. “This is the final test. We will begin commercial generation after west testing is completed,” he added.
Tunnel cleaning work is currently underway after completing all electromechanical and hydro mechanical tests, according to Dahal.
The project, which will be connected to the national grid during the initial weeks of dry months, will boost supply in the nation’s energy basket, helping the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to minimize load-shedding hours as officials of the state-owned utility are worried over failure of their attempts to import more energy from India.
“The project will be connected to the national grid via a separate transmission line to a substation in Attariya, Kailali. The energy generated by the project can be supplied up to Butwal,” Dahal said, adding, “This means there will be no need to supply imported electricity to the west, according to supply system analysis.”
Construction of the project began in 2007 with an estimated cost of Rs 8.49 billion. The cost has now escalated to more than Rs 14.5 billion.
Dahal said that the cost until last fiscal year was Rs 14.50 billion. “Payments for additional works will be only few million rupees,” he added.
The project was mired in controversy due to variation order payments to the contractor, including the payment of Rs 1.09 billion as decided by former energy minister Radha Gyawali. It also faced lengthy delays due to tunnel squeezing - a problem faced in tunnel digging due to weaker geology, in 2014.
It will be only the second project built by the government after the Madhya Marshyangdi Hydropower Project which started generation in 2008. Other NEA-promoted projects, Kulekhani III and Upper Trishuli 3A, are also seeing lengthy delays.