Solar Power for East New Britain

November 26, 2023

Minister for State Enterprises, Hon. William Duma, today announced the signing of an MOU between Kumul Consolidated Holdings and the East New Britain Provincial Government that paves the way for a solar power project that will ensure greater electricity reliability in that province.

Minister Duma said,” This project is an example of how KCH is supporting one of the country’s most important SOE’s, PNG Power, to fulfil its mandated function to provide reliable electricity to its business and residential customers.”

Minister Duma highlighted the comprehensive nature of KCH’s support in various projects, including the Rabaul to Matupit Transmission upgrade and the rural electrification project in Matalau, Nordup and Baai villages. This initiative doesn’t solely focus on a single facet of the Gazelle power grid but rather encompasses the entire spectrum, from generation to the empowerment of rural customers. This is the first time in 29 years that these villages, with an estimated population of 36,000 will have access to electricity since the volcanic eruptions in 1994.  This is the Marape-Rosso Government’s commitment under my Ministry and Kumul Consolidated Holdings to drive rural electrification program.

“The Gazelle power grid provides power to customers in this region, whose collective demand is estimated to be about 15MW, from the Warangoi hydropower facility and other diesel-powered sources. Unfortunately, river water levels only allow half of the Warangoi 10MW capacity to be utilised and other sources are not able to supply the necessary additional generation capacity.”

 Minister Duma noted that because of this irregularity of power supply, a number of businesses on the Gazelle Peninsula who required constant electricity had in fact installed their own generators to ensure that they could continue operation, despite the costs of this installation. He also remarked that PNG Power was therefore losing the regular income that these enterprises could potential generate if they were connected to the grid.

 “This initiative by Kumul Consolidated Holdings to liaise closely with the Provincial Government to identify and utilise 10 hectares of land will enable the construction of a 5MW solar farm and associated power storage that has no moving parts and would not stop running.”

“There is very rarely a shortage of sunshine in the East New Britain Province!”

 Commenting on the proposed solar power installation, the Minister pointed out that, “since so much of the Gazelle grid power generation at present comes from diesel generators, this solar power project is an example of a fuel switch that will save PNG Power money.”

 Minister Duma outlined that the effective cooperation between the provincial government, Kumul Consolidated, construction tenderers and associated consultants to complete a fair and transparent process, demonstrated what SOE Reform was all about.

”KCH has facilitated an independent tendering and selection process, including oversight of shortlisted bidders who provided relevant information on financing, installation, operational details and a business model for the solar project.”

 “What will be achieved here in East New Britain should be an example to other provincial centres where the cost of using of expensive diesel or heavy oil to generate power exceeds the revenue collected from electricity customers. We have to ensure that all PNG Power energy supply activities can be carried out in a profitable manner.”

 As the Minister responsible for power in the country, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Governor Micheal Marum and the provincial government to make land available for the solar farm project. This only demonstrates that provincial leaders are committed to improving the quality of life for the East New Britain people by making land available for this power project.

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