U.S. offers financial support for rehab of Liberia’s 64-MW Mount Coffee hydropower plant

The U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation has signed a five-year, $257 million agreement with Liberia for reconstruction of the 64-MW Mount Coffee hydropower plant.

Signed earlier this week at the U.S. Department of State, the partnership “combines infrastructure investments with policy and institutional reforms designed to modernize the country’s power sector and strengthen its road maintenance,” according to an MCC release.

The financing will also support U.S. efforts to help Liberia recover from an Ebola outbreak that halted rehabilitation work at Mount Coffee for several months earlier this year.

“MCC is pleased to provide funding for Liberia that strengthens the foundation for private investment and complements other U.S. government efforts at this critical time,” MCC CEO Dana J. Hyde said. “The United States and Liberia share a deep and special relationship, and this investment in energy security will help change the lives of the Liberian people for the better.”

The run-of-river plant, located on the St. Paul River about 30 kilometers northeast of Monrovia, was destroyed during a period of civil war in the early 1990s. The original powerhouse contained four turbine-generator units, two with a capacity of 15 MW that began operating in 1966 and two with a capacity of 17 MW that began operating in 1973.

The rehabilitation will provide much-needed energy to Liberia’s population — only 2% of which currently has access to electricity.

MCC’s funding will also help develop a training center for power sector technicians and support the creation of an independent energy sector regulator.

“This compact strengthens our partnership with a country that has shown extraordinary resilience in the face of enormous challenges, and exemplary commitment to advancing economic freedom, governing justly and investing in future opportunity for its people,” Deputy Assitant Secretary of State for African Affairs Todd Haskell said.

Rehabilitation of the plant has been ongoing for a number of years with backing from the European Investment Bank and European Central Bank, who broke ground on the efforts in January 2014.

The Liberia Electricity Company, which is managing the rehabilitation, announced that it had awarded a contract to Dawnus International Ltd. to construct Mount Coffee’s main civil works in June. LEC previously awarded a contract to Voith Hydro in October 2013 to supple electrical and mechanical equipment.

For more rehabilitation and upgrade news, visit here.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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