Energy: Almost 28 months after being shutdown following a major mechanical breakdown, rehabilitation of the Chumey mini hydroelectric power plant has begun.

Rehabilitation of the plant began on March 17.

“The contractor has started taking the detailed measurements of old electromechanical equipment like turbines, generator and panels,” Project Manager of the rehabilitation, Tshewang Yeshi said.

Austrian company M/s Erhard Automation was awarded the contract to rehabilitate the plant. The 24-month duration contract worth Nu 2.43 million (M) funded by Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) was signed on December 23 last year. The site was handed over to the contractor in February.

The installed capacity of the mini power plant is also going to increase marginally to 1.737MW from 1.5MW before.

The power plant has closed down since October 2013 because of deterioration of electro-mechanical equipments such as turbines, flywheel and the control panel.

“In this line, BPC initiated the rehabilitation for the major works in the electromechanical equipment and minor maintenance of the civil infrastructure,” a press release from BPC stated.

Tshewang Yeshi said electromechanical equipment such as the generator, oil pressure unit, control panel and transformer will be replaced with new ones. In civil structure desilting chamber will be replaced with new one since the single chamber which during routine maintenance entails shutting down the power plant completely.

“With double desilting chamber the power plant doesn’t have to be shut down since the other chamber can be used during the routine maintenance,” Tshewang Yeshi said.

The press release stated that the rehabilitation project is being accorded high priority as it is faster and cheaper than constructing a new power plant.

“The investment for the rehabilitation, modernization and up-rate of Chumey power plant is timely as it had aged translating to exorbitant maintenance cost,” the press release adds. With completion of the rehabilitation project, the power plant will meet most of Bumthang’s energy needs. The additional revenue generated from the powerhouse will also ameliorate the reliability by reducing dependence on the national grid.

Bumthang BPC senior manager, Gyeltshen said rehabilitation is important for the dzongkhag firstly because if there is power interruption from the national grid, the mini plant can supply the power.

“The rehabilitation of the mini hydel will increase the power reliability,” Gyeltshen said, adding the generation of surplus electricity could be exported to India.

Tempa Wangdi