Friday, 24 May

Dumsor: No ECG transformer was overloaded; it's false – PURC Commissioner

Mr Ishmael Edjekumhene is a Commissioner of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission

It is false that 630 distribution transformers of the Electricity Company of Ghana were overloaded, as claimed by the state power distributor, Mr Ishmael Edjekumhene, a Commissioner of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission has revealed.

In March this year, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) said 630 distribution transformers within communities across its operational areas were identified to be full due to increased demand.

In a public notice on Monday, 11 March 2024, the ECG noted that “this situation may result in blown fuses and broken conductors causing outages, especially during the peak load period (7 pm – 11 pm) in the affected areas."

The ECG, however, assured customers that “transformer upgrading and new projects” were “ongoing to relieve these transformers to ensure a more reliable power supply.”

It, therefore, advised customers in the affected communities and localities to report “any localised outage or voltage fluctuations to its call centre or reach the power-distributing company on its social media handles for prompt rectification.”

“We continue to seek the support and patience of affected customers as we work to improve our power distribution system,” the notice added.

However, Mr Edjekumhene, who is also the Executive Director of the Kumasi Institute of Technology and Environment (KITE), told Bernard Avle on the Citi Breakfast Show on Tuesday, 16 April 2024 that the PURC’s checks found no such overloads.

According to him, the PURC was “surprised” about that information, since ECG had never mentioned that to the Commission.

“So, we were just following up on information that ECG itself has put into the public domain, [of] which the regulator wasn’t aware. So, when we wrote to the ECG, if that wasn’t the case, they should probably have said that that wasn’t the case. But they gave us all the information”, he said.

“We have gone out to all the transformers, at least, a majority of the transformers and it is turning out to be that those transformers were not overloaded”, Mr Edjekumhene noted, adding: “That is why GRIDCo said they gave instruction and ECG is not complying with those directives in a timely manner”.

ECG has been fined hefty sums by the PURC for various infractions.

The Commission imposed a GH₵36,000 penalty on ECG for failing to disclose all its bank and investment accounts despite multiple requests.

“The Commission hereby imposes an initial regulatory charge of 3,000 penalty units on ECG per Regulation 45 of LI 2413, amounting to GH₵36,000”, a letter to ECG said, noting: “ECG shall pay the initial regulatory charge of GH₵36,000 to the Commission on or before 22 April 2024”.

Regarding the time frame for compliance, the PURC added that after the payment, “for every working day that the requested details remain outstanding, ECG shall pay an additional regulatory charge of 3,000 penalty units, calculated daily until the date of compliance.”

Additionally, the company faces a hefty fine of GH₵5,868,000 for 163 breaches related to the notification and publication of planned outages.

The PURC has decided to pass on the latter fine to ECG's board members, citing the company's financial challenges and the potential impact on service quality.

The board members, in office from January 1 to March 18, 2024, are now accountable for settling the GH₵5,868,000 fine by May 30, 2024.

“The Commission has determined that having regard to the nature of ECG’s ownership and business, the imposition of the penalty of GHS 5,868,000 on ECG would be counter-productive, as payment from ECG’s revenue would have a rebounding adverse effect on quality of service and consumers who pay tariffs to the company£, the letter conveyed.

“For that reason, in the interest of justice and to protect the interests of consumers, the Commission shall hold the Board Members of ECG who were in office from 1 January to 18 March 2024 liable for the payment of the GH₵ 5,868,000.”

Furthermore, ECG has been ordered to pay GH₵446,283,706.29 to Category B beneficiaries under the Cash Waterfall Mechanism.

This amount, representing unpaid revenue from August 2023 to February 2024, must be settled by April 30, 2024, with the board members and management facing liability in case of non-compliance.