Turbine generator, Unit 3, at Kajakai Dam Powerhouse started adding power to its commercial operation at 14:00 PM on October 4, despite an increase of insurgency activities in war stricken southern Afghanistan. With the refurbished Unit 3 once again online, in combination with Unit 1 that USAID completed in September 2005, the total power generation capacity of Kajakai hydro power plant is approximately 33 MW, of which 12 MW are being transmitted to Kandahar City.
In addition to Kandahar City, Unit 3 is currently generating and transmitting power via a 110-kV transmission line to communities in Lashkar Gah, Musa Qala and Sangin in neighboring Helmand Province.
“We are now generating more power out of Kajakai than approximately three decades before,” said head engineer, Rasoul, who has been directly involved with Unit 1 and Unit 3 for the past 30 years.
The increase in power generation will lead to significant cost savings for electricity consumers and further add to the country's diverse mix of electric power sources that include both generation and imported power. Additional power will also provide increased economic opportunities for the people in the Kandahar and Helmand Provinces while creating new jobs.
"Enhancing access to electricity is one of the U.S. Government's priorities in Afghanistan," stated USAID Director Bill Frey. "It drives economic growth, provides increased social benefits and improves the quality of life for Afghans. We are proud to have contributed to these results and plan to continue our significant investments in this sector."
“The work was done by utilizing the skills and expertise of Afghan workers at the powerhouse,” a project spokesperson commented. “And significant repairs of both large turbine and generator components were completed by Afghan machinists at the Da Afghanistan Breshna Mosessa workshop in Kabul.”
Engineer Rasoul concluded: “To my knowledge this combination of Afghan involvement has not been done on this level before.”
In 1953 Kajakai Dam was built with U.S. government funds to provide irrigation in the Helmand River Valley. During the mid-1970s, a USAID-funded hydro power plant with two 16.5-MW turbine generators, dubbed Unit 1 and Unit 3, was installed at the foot of the dam. Twenty-five years of neglected maintenance led to the serious deterioration of these two units.
The Kajakai effort follows the successful energizing in August of electricity at the Tarakhil Power Plant. An initial 35 MW from the plant has the capacity to provide electricity to approximately 200,000 people in Kabul, with the 105 MW plant's total capacity able to deliver power to more than 500,000 people. The plant's availability will enable the national utility to meet an additional 24 percent of the demand for electric energy expected in Kabul.
The project followed the successful transmission of 40 MW of imported power from Uzbekistan to Kabul, beginning in January 2009, using newly built facilities that had never been activated. The transmission project was accomplished through a collaborative effort of contractors and Afghan agencies in just 35 days from the time USAID received a request for technical support from the Afghan-government.
Project Profile: Kajakai Dam Auxiliary Infrasture and Support Services
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