… for being the best-maintained 

Award: The Central Board for Irrigation and Power (CBIP) of the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India (GoI), awarded Chukha hydroelectric project (CHEP) for being the best-maintained hydroelectric project (older than 10 years) on December 29 last year.

Druk Green Power Corporation Ltd (DGPC) received the award.

It has been 42 years since Bhutan and India signed the agreement to implement the 336 megawatt (MW) CHEP, the largest developmental bilateral project to be undertaken in the country.

GoI financed the project with 60 percent of the project cost as grant and the rest as loan. The project was completed at a cost of around Nu 2.5 billion.

DGPC’s managing director, Dasho Chhewang Rinzin, said it encourages DGPC to perform better when the company is being recognised.

“For DGPC, it also validates that our initiatives in the hydropower sector are on the right path. DGPC takes a lot of pride in operating and maintaining the CHEP,” Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said. “Much of the expertise and experience with the country’s power sector has been acquired through the project.”

Based on these experiences, DGPC has established several Centre of Excellences in control and protection, dielectric material analysis, vibration and thermo graphic analysis, and instrumentation. “We continue to use this base to further build the country’s capacity in the hydropower sector,” Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said.

“For Bhutan, CHEP, on completion, has had far reaching impact on the socio-economic development of the country with access to cheap and reliable power supply, and revenues from the surplus energy exported to India. It also changed the complete power scenario in the neighbouring Indian state of West Bengal and other beneficiary states of the surplus power from Chukha,” Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said.

With the success of the CHEP, the Kurichhu and the Tala projects were taken up for implementation. Bhutan and India have since agreed to cooperate in developing another 10,000 MW generating capacity in Bhutan.

In 2008, CHEP along with other hydropower generating plants were placed under DGPC, which was established as the single entity public sector generation utility for the country. This year marks the 30th year of the commissioning of the first and second generating units of CHEP.

With power plant availabilities hovering over 98 percent and water utilisation factors of over 99 percent, the project has been operating without any problems since commissioning, Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said.

“This is testimony to the excellent design and engineering, and adoption of high levels of quality control during construction. The project has not faced any major problems with any of its civil structures from the dam to the HRT to the powerhouse over the last 30 years of operation. With ageing, DGPC has recently initiated some minor and major renovation and maintenance works for some of the electro-mechanical equipment,” Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said.

With a 40m high dam built across the Wangchhu to divert the river into a single 6.5km head race tunnel, the project houses four generating units of 84MW each. The main civil works in the project was started in 1979 and the first and second generating units were commissioned in 1986. The third and the fourth generating units were commissioned in 1988.

CHEP’s annual generation capacity, which stood at 1,774 gigawatt hours (GWh) was recently expanded to generate another 67 GWh after diverting the Tichalumchhu to a reservoir and Lubichhu to the surge shaft.

Thinley Zangmo