The Upper Bhotekoshi Hydropower Project in Sindhupalchok is slated to restart operations next week, five years after it shut for repairs. The 45 megawatt plant was battered by a series of disasters that forced its closure, project officials said.
Bikram Ratna Sthapit, chief executive officer of the project, said they were currently conducting tests after finishing repair work. On Saturday, technicians put the 132 kV transmission line that connects the plant to the national grid into the testing phase, he said.
According to Sthapit, the project has issued a notice telling locals to stay clear of the power line which extends from the switchyard at Jhipru, Bhotekoshi to the Nepal Electricity Authority’s substation at Sunkoshi.
According to him, 22 megawatts will be fed into the grid in the first phase, and 23 megawatts within the next 15 days.
The Upper Bhotekoshi Hydroelectric Project located in Bhotekoshi Rural Municipality faced numerous hurdles since construction began in 2014.
On August 2, 2014, a landslide triggered by heavy rain swept away four pylons at Jure, 16 km downstream of the powerhouse on the Sunkoshi River, and prevented it from evacuating electricity. Soil and rock flowed down and across the valley and up onto the opposite bank, damming the river.
Again on April 25, 2015, the devastating earthquake that struck the country damaged the plant, halting the generation of electricity. Following the tremor, several landslides caused severe damage to the penstock, powerhouse, residences and office buildings.
The project said that about 60 percent of the repair work on the penstock, powerhouse equipment and transformers had been completed on July 5, 2016 when another landslide struck the headworks and powerhouse.
When the project started installing new transmission lines, locals created obstacles, demanding a 35 percent stake in the company. Many had criticised the demand for shares in the project, but locals supported by the major political parties continued to agitate.
They allowed the project to start reconstruction work on the transmission line only after it agreed to give them 6 percent of the shares.
The project, which started commercial operation in 2001, is the first privately funded, run-of-the-river hydroelectric power project in Nepal.
Bhotekoshi Hydropower Company hired Sinohydro of China to carry out the reconstruction work. The Chinese company was responsible for the civil, electronic and hydro mechanical works. Another company installed the turbine and generator.
The project spent around Rs7 billion on the repair work, almost equal to the plant’s initial cost, according to project officials.
The Kathmandu Post