By MALUM NALU
THE Warangoi Hydro Power (HPP) Facility in Pomio, East New Britain, was originally commissioned in 1983 to supply electricity to the province.
It has been operating then, however, well below its rated capacity of 10 megawatts (MW) for close to 10 years now due to its age and need for major overhaul.
The low production of Warangoi hydropower – which is a major power generation source for customers and industries on the Gazelle Grid – has impacted PNG Power Ltd’s (PPL) ability to maintain services.
PPL has been relying on the Ulagunan and Kerevat power stations to cater for demand on the Gazelle Grid.
PPL also leased gensets on standby in the Gazelle system to cater for peak demand.
There is now light at the end of the tunnel for the people of East New Britain, one of the most-important hubs for agriculture, tourism and sustainable fisheries and forestry in the country.
Prime Minister James Marape on Monday opened the K83 million 10 MW Warangoi HPP Major Rehabilitation Project with an assurance to landowners that they will be paid the K5 million they want for use of their land and water.
PM Marape switched on the button for Warangoi to start powering East New Britain.
He was accompanied by East New Britain Governor Nakikus Konga, Pomio MP Elias Kapavore, Health Minister and Gazelle MP Jelta Wong, Agriculture and Livestock Minister John Simon, Correctional Services Minister Win Daki, Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH) Chairman Moses Maladina and Acting Managing Director Prof David Kavanamur, and PPL Acting Chief Executive Officer Obed Batia.
Rehabilitation of the project was made possible through the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the National Government co-funded Town Electrification Investment Programme, with the contractors being Dongfang Electric Corp and AG Investments JV.
The ADB is a key multi-lateral partner that continues to support Papua New Guinea with financing support for key infrastructure.
It has an extensive portfolio in the power sector, including restoration of PPL’s ageing hydro assets, which is in line with the Government’s aspirations of ensuring PNG’s energy needs are served through cheaper and cleaner means.
Contractors Dongfang Electric Corp and AG Investments JV have displayed workmanship on this critical project which has been delivered within budget and schedule.
The long delay in restoring Warangoi HPP has impacted the reliability of power to support households and industries in East New Britain over many years.
With the rehabilitation of the Warangoi HPP, it is envisaged that reliability will be restored to support the province’s development aspirations and planned growth in the various economic sectors
PM Marape thanked local landowners for allowing electricity to flow to East New Britain for the last 39 years without demanding compensation.
“Power generation from here has produced so many economic benefits for East New Britain,” he said.
“To the people of Sinivit, to the people of Baining, your Government will not let you down (in the K5 million they asked for).”
PM Marape appealed to the landowners to organise themselves – like their counterparts at Yonki in Eastern Highlands and Rouna in Central – to benefit from the funds instead of just a few people benefitting.
He asked them to do this in preparation for the next phase of the project further up the Warangoi River.
PM Marape said this was part of the Pangu Pati’s flagship policy of creating “economic independence” for the people of PNG
PM Marape described East New Britain as “a very important part of our country” in the non-extractive industries such as agriculture, tourism, fisheries and sustainable forestry.
“In that context, we come to East New Britain not by accident, but by choice, because this is a very good foundation province to anchor our focus on rural-based industries like agriculture and downstream processing,” he said.
“All of this will depend on reliable power, reliable infrastructure and reliable internet.”
- Malum Nalu works with the Office of the Prime Minister
The water catchment area of the Warangoi hydro power project
in East New Britain. – Pictures by MALUM NALU