The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) Safety Manager Nkiri Tejane indicated that maintenance of the ‘Muela Hydropower Station were in advanced stage following its commencement on September 30.
“The replacement of the valves and repairing of the turbines is currently in progress,” he said explaining that at the beginning of the process they emptied the water in the tunnels from the Katse Dam to ‘Muela Dam.
“The work commenced with checking the tunnels from October 7 to 10 to see if there is need for any repairs. We found out that there are some minor repairs needing to be done. What has been going on now is replacement of the water measuring metres because the old ones have not been accurate due to prolonged usage,” Tejane explained to Newsday ridiculing allegations that the measuring instruments were situated in South Africa.
“Our two meters are situated at the Ngoajane Mountain in the Butha-Buthe district.
Asked if halting operations at the ‘Muela Hydropower station could result in inflated electricity tariffs now that the country is buying all of its electricity form South Africa, Tejane indicated that LHDA is not aware of such hikes, and theirs is just to generate electricity and pass it on to the company responsible for electricity distribution.
“We do not even have statistics of how many people benefit from the electricity that the power station generates,” Tejane emphasised confirming that indeed the plant is not generating any electricity at present.
“We are still working on the replacement of valves, maintaining the turbines, metres as well as tunnels, which is an exercise necessary to be done after every 20 years.”
Meanwhile, the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) General Manager in the engineering department, Mohlomi Seitlheko, disclosed that the closure of the ‘Muela plant has not had any effect on LEC electricity tariffs.
He indicated that LEC tariffs are reviewed once in a year, and the last time when such a review was done was during the first half of the year, around May.
“The prices are still the same for all districts supplied by electricity from the ‘Muela plant. I mean all the ten districts of Lesotho except for Mokhotlong and Qachasnek, which are not supplied by ‘Muela’s total of 72 Megawatts of electricity generation,” Seitlheko said.
Maintenance of the LHDA assets has been taking place since October 31, and is expected to continue until November 30.
According to the Authority, the inspection and maintenance is aimed at ensuring sustainable operations and services of all electro mechanical components from the Katse intake tower through to the ‘Muela tunnel, installation of new state of the art water flow metres to be installed at Ngoajane tunnels and all other components.
The inspection maintenance is aimed at ensuring sustainable operations and service of the tunnels and all electro mechanical components and the Katse intake tower, through to the Muela power station.
The current inspection is also done to ensure that the LHWP is able to deliver its mandate of generating hydropower in Lesotho and transferring water to South Africa.
This means that during this period Lesotho will not generate its own electricity but will rely on supply from ESKOM in south Africa and EDM in Mozambique.
The first part of the inspection which is the most work on the Katse intake tower commenced on September 19.