Two ‘sick’ NEA projects starting generation by mid-July

Published On: April 18, 2019 08:52 AM NPT

KATHMANDU, April 18: Two 'sick' hydropower projects being developed by Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) are on the last leg of construction. Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has said that Kulekhani III and Upper Trishuli 3A will start power generation by mid-July.

Kulekhani III (14 MW) is a cascade project at the tail of Kulekhani II hydropower project, while Upper Trishuli 3A has installed capacity of 60 MW.

According to NEA officials, project officials have completed testing 4.2-kilometer tunnel of Kulekhani III, while testing of 5-kilometer tunnel of Upper Trishuli 3A began from Wednesday. An official of NEA told Republica that Kulekhani III will start generation from mid-July, while the first unit of Upper Trishuli 3A will begin power generation from first unit by April-end and from second unit by mid-July.

"Both the projects were delayed due to various reasons. But we have succeeded in bringing things into order. They will start generation very soon," said Kulman Ghising, the managing director of the NEA. "We have filed the tunnel with water. Likewise, testing of turbines, generator and electro-mechanical works are underway."

NEA had started Kulekhani III project in 2008, setting completion deadline of 2012. It has seen numerous deadline extensions. The project was termed 'sick' because of non-performance by the Chinese contractor for electromechanical works – Jheijian Jialin. NEA later hired another Chinese contractor SinoHydro for the work.

However, SinoHydro terminated the contract unilaterally pushing the project into uncertainty. Lengthy delays have escalated the project cost to Rs 4.63 billion nearly double than the initial estimated cost of Rs 2.33 billion.

Kulekhani I reservoir project produces 60 MW, while its cascade project Kulekhani II has installed capacity of 32 MW.

According to Ghising, testing of dam, dam gates and settling basin, among others, of Upper Trishuli 3A has already been completed. "The first unit of 30 MW will start generation from April-end, while the second start will be ready for generation by mid-July,” said Ghising.

The contract of Upper Trishuli 3A was awarded to Chinese contractor China Gezhouba Group Company Limited in Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) modality in 2010. The project is being developed with a soft loan of US$ 125.8 million from Exim Bank of China. 

The project suffered because of the 2015 earthquakes which affected its civil structure. Quake-triggered landslide also damaged access road to the project site. 

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