By CHARLES KADAMANA
SOLOMON Islands Electrical Authority (SIEA) and Australian Infrastructure Finance Facility of the Pacific (AIFFP) have signed a USD$22.7 million ($181 million) deal yesterday to develop a transmission system from Tina Hydro power station to Honiara.
Involving in the signing ceremony are SIEA Chief Executive Officer Donald Kiriau, Chairman David K.C. Quan, Australia High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan and Minister of Finance and Treasury Harry Kumar as witnessed by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and officials.
Kiriau said by signing this agreement SIEA will be partnering with AIFFP, an Australian Government funded financing facility, to develop a transmission system which will include a 22 kilometres transmission line to connect from Tina Hydro power station to the Lunga power station.
He said the transmission line is one of the important components of the Tina Hydro Development Project because it will essentially bring electricity into homes and businesses in Honiara by 2024.
“This agreement will enable the required financing for the development of this transmission system which will no doubt improve and enhance SIEA’s capability into a realiable and sustainable power,” he said.
He said the total cost of the transmission system is around USD$27.4 million.
Under the agreement AIFFP will provide US 22.7 million while the government through Solomon Power will contribute to the remaining US$4.7 million.
He describes the partnership as historical and demonstrates the trust and confidence of Australia and AIFFP in SIEA.
General Manager Special Project and Planning Bennie Smith said currently Solomon Power uses “quite a bit” of diesel fuel to generate electricity.
He said with signing of the agreement it will allow to build transmission line from Tina Hydro power station that will be built over the next 3 or 4 years.
“The hydro power station will allow Solomon power to eliminate some of the diesel fuel supplier and become greener islands which is good for our country
“Also, as part of the project it would deliver transmitter electricity to the existing distribution system and on top of that this will allow us to provide electricity to communities around the Tina River area where the transmission line will run so more people will have access to electricity in a more environmentally friendly,” he said.
Smith said the project is an expensive undertaking but over the long period of time it will reduce the cost of electricity to customers.
Under this component power will be generated from Hydropower facility to Honiara Electricity system through two parallel single circuit 66 kilovolt transmission lines of 22 km each to the existing Lungga Diesel Power station.
The transmission system is expected to deliver 70-80 gigawatt hours of renewable energy per annum enough to meet around 68 percent of Honiara’s electricity demand.
The design of the transmission line has started and should be finalised in the coming months. It is anticipated that the construction will start by end of this year or early next year.