Addressing the Challenge
In order to proactively address the anticipated risks of delayed grid connection, the Government, through the ERA, established a Joint Task Force comprised of ERA, UETCL, Umeme and REA in 2014. The objective of the task force was to plan for adequate infrastructure to enable proper and full evacuation of the proposed GET FiT generation projects, in order to mitigate power shortages in the medium to long term and also avoid situations of deemed energy. The task force identified the key bottlenecks, infrastructure requirements and estimated budgets. The Government had previously committed to funding new lines longer than 5 km from a project’s location to the nearest grid; shorter lines would be built by project developers. In all cases, developers were required to conduct detailed grid connection studies for each project.
The work of the joint task force enabled GET FiT development partners to identify areas of support for the implementation of critical grid infrastructure. Some of the grid infrastructure investments support was the result of direct sourcing through GET FiT, such as the reinforcement of the 33 kV networks in Western Uganda and the upgrade of the Opuyo substation, both supported by UK DFID. The remainder of the grid infrastructure investments were provided by different development partners as part of the wider sector support, also benefitting GET FiT projects, such as the planned Mbale – Bulambuli transmission line financed by KfW; and Nkenda substation upgrade financed by the World Bank, to mention a few.
The lead agencies in the implementation of the infrastructure reinforcements have been REA and Umeme for the 33 kV networks, and UETCL for the high voltage (132/220 kV) infrastructure. ERA has played a coordinating role and facilitated regular high level meetings with the implementing agencies. KfW and the GET FiT Secretariat have also maintained close follow up with implementing agencies and developers to ensure that grid reinforcements are well aligned with expected project commissioning. The sections below give an update on the status of implementation for the different grid projects.