LEC begins testing of first Mount Coffee hydropower plant turbine

Mount Coffee Hydropower Project Penstock

Testing of the first generating unit is now under way at Liberia's 64-MW Mount Coffee hydropower plant in advance of a planned December 15 commissioning.

The occasion will be marked by a ceremony that includes Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Mount Coffee's owner, the Liberia Electricity Corp., announced in October that it had begun filling the project's reservoir.

The project, on the St. Paul River 27 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 cost to make the needed repairs and upgrades to bring the facility back on line had been estimated at about US$230 million. The government has received funding from various donors, including the European Investment Bank and European Central Bank, to help finance the work.

The Liberian government originally planned for the rehabilitation to be completed by the end of 2015, though work suspensions due to the country's Ebola epidemic have stalled progress.

Voith Hydro is modernizing the plant's Francis turbines and delivering new generators, control technology, and electrical and mechanical power plant equipment.

U.K.-based Dawnus International Ltd. was responsible for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the project's main dam, powerhouse, spillway, intake and other infrastructure and road works.

The government had originally intended to expand the project with a new 104 MW hydroelectric plant to be built upstream from Mount Coffee in the early 1990s, though the war has thus far distrupted those plans.

For more news from Africa, visit here.

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