— Switching on the CLSG line, LEC says: “Everyone must pay, whether big or small. The government will not tolerate power theft.”
The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), has switched on the Côte d’Ivoire-Liberia-Sierra Leone-Guinea (CLSG) interconnection line, which intends to ensure stable power supply for millions of Liberians.
The CLSG project involves the construction of five 225 kV substations and approximately 530 km of 225 kV power lines running across five counties in Liberia, according to TRANSCO CLSG, the regional power interconnection facility owner and transmission service provider.
The Justice Minister and Acting President of Liberia, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, who commissioned the power line yesterday, said the switching on of the line is a major milestone for Liberia towards achieving their common desire to realize a regional energy market, espoused under the ECOWAS regional energy policy.
He emphasized that the government is committed to actively participating in the West Africa Power Pool as they strive to provide electrical energy at affordable and competitive prices to ensure social and economic development.
“We are all aware that reliable electricity is crucial to industrial development, social welfare, and improved healthcare. The execution of the power purchase agreement with CI Energies and CIE and the transmission service agreement with TRANSCO CLSG has made the arrival of power from Côte d'Ivoire possible today,” Dean said. “This power will help fill a critical gap in our power supply created by low water inflow to Mt. Coffee hydro in the dry season and growing energy demand.”
According to him, the government will provide significant resources to meet their commercial commitments despite limited fiscal space and competing budgetary demands.
Dean, however, said that the sustainability of this project is of utmost importance to them, and this requires every consumer to pay for the electricity he/she/it consumes. When everybody pays, the burden becomes far lighter, and before long, it will cease to be a burden.
“President Weah extends his best wishes on this occasion and assures all Liberians that his government will continue to work assiduously to increase access to electricity across the length and breadth of Liberia as an integral part of our poverty reduction program,” he said.
He adds, “We can then all enjoy long hours of reliable and uninterrupted power. Those of us who have lived in other parts of the world know that it works. Let us all try it. It will work. Everyone must pay, whether big or small. The government will not tolerate power theft. Officials of the government must lead by example.”
He used the occasion to remind all consumers that power theft is a crime, a second-degree felony. Do not test our resolve to meet this menace with the full force of the law. There will be harsher punishment for repeat offenders.
He also thanked key development partners like the World Bank, African Development Bank, KfW, and the European Union Investment Bank for supporting the project to completion, noting that as a government, they had long shared their views with those partners that a lack of accessible, reliable and affordable electricity was a constraint to economic growth and national development.
Also speaking, the General Manager of TRANSCO CLSG, Mohamed Sherif, recalled that within its master plan, the West African Power Pool had planned to accelerate several regional interconnection line projects, including a transmission line to interconnect the states of Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinéa.
“We have all assembled here today to witness the switching on of affordable and reliable electricity supply from Côte d’Ivoire to Liberia that is delivered through the CLSG interconnection line,” Sherif added.
This, he said, is a clear manifestation of the commitment of the CLSG governments and their people to ensure this legacy project is achieved for the benefit of all Liberians and people of the ECOWAS region.
“The CLSG Project is a multinational investment operation and is financed by 4 donors namely, the World Bank, the European Investment Bank, the KfW and the African Development Bank.
“The four beneficiary countries have provided counterpart fundings for the payments of Resettlement Action Plans and Interest accrued during construction and duty-free concessions,” he said.
Sherif further said that by switching on these lights today, the people of Liberia are offered hope for a better life, improved health, and quality education, alleviation of poverty, and fostering sustainable socioeconomic development.
Earlier in welcome remarks, Monie R. Captan, Chief executive officer of LEC said, “Today we have gathered to celebrate the flow of energy from Cote d; Ivoire to Liberia through the CLSG transmission line.
“We have achieved this major milestone through the consolation of our power purchase agreement between LEC and CI Energies and CI and the transmission service agreement and Transco CLSG.”
He said the energy they are purchasing has been earmarked to fill the energy gap created in the dry season due to the low water level and inflow affecting the operation of Mt. Coffee Hydro.
According to him, in the past, the only option to fill the energy gap was the famous plant at Bushrod Island, which runs a combination of lights and heavy fuel oil, etc.
The CLSG connection will increase LEC’s power generation capacity by 27 Megawatts. The power to be added on amounts to about 50% of what Mt. Coffee Hydro currently generates, the statement revealed.
“This additional power should help us go a long way in addressing our dry season needs,” said Captan.
“La Côte d’ Ivoire is not giving us free electricity. This PPA is a commercial agreement requiring Liberia to pay for the electricity it receives. Our goal is to work with communities in making this agreement sustainable and successful through legal connections and regular payment of electricity bills,” he stressed.
LEC’s Power Purchase Arrangement (PPA) with CI Energies and CIE, is a commercial agreement for the purchase and supply of electricity which will be gradually increased to meet growing energy demand in Liberia.
“Today marks a major milestone in our effort to create a regional energy market and interconnect our electricity networks,” said Gesler E. Murray, Minister of Mines and Energy. “The supply of energy from La Cote d’Ivoire will significantly help stabilize our energy supply during the dry season when we face major energy deficits.”
From all indications, this represents a big step forward in improving education, health, and security and will also improve the livelihood of urban and rural communities. The agreement offers a long-term electricity supply arrangement between the parties and will ensure the viability of trade on the transmission line between benefitting countries.