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US power company ready to start work

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One of the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) Water Wheel International, a company which is based in the US, has confirmed that it will soon start construction works for a hydropower plant in Nkhata Bay, which is expected to add 42 megawatts to the national grid.

The company’s President, Rod Ekern, confirmed that work on the project will commence in January, 2017.

Groundwork for the project has been ongoing in the past three years during which time a feasibility study was also concluded.

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“We need to get our Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) secured and agreed upon with Escom before the end of this year. We are also negotiating with lending agencies to secure the funding, so those two things will be running parallel.

“We hope that those two things can be completed in the next six months so that we can initiate the project in 2017,” Rod said.

He, however, hinted that the time it is taking to secure the PPA is owing to the fact that the concept is new in the country hence everyone is learning but said the pace of all the preparatory processes has been normal this far.

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The project is expected to create over 200 job opportunities during the construction and later about 50 permanent employees will man the operation of the plant whose development is expected to cost up to $200 million.

The project will use the company using its own technology called Pump Storage Innovation which is said to be less demanding on water levels and has been successfully used in US.

“We are actually making applications to patent the technology here in Malawi and one of our future projects will be to fully utilise the technology so that we can develop energy without being dependent upon rainfall and it will create what we call baseline continuous power,” he explained.

Apart from the power plant investment, the company says it will construct two primary schools and one secondary school within the project development area.

The company says it will also introduce an environmentally friendly construction method by providing equipment and training to people while providing bio fuel to prevent villagers from depleting the forest.

The company is also interested to develop power plant in Rumphi whose feasibility study will be done soon after completion of the first project.

Several other investors are at various stages of investment in the needy power industry but the key has been the Power Purchase Agreement with Escom, which will have to distribute the power.

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