The project that is estimated to cost Rs 160 billion will now be developed by a joint venture with Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) and CWE Investment Corporation, a subsidiary of China’s Three Gorges Corporation (TGC). The state power utility, NEA will have 25 per cent in equity, and CWEI will inject investment for the equity and borrow the remaining amount.
The joint venture will conduct geological tests before monsoon for the mega hydropower
project that is going to be constructed in Baitadi, Bajura, Dadeldhura and Doti districts of Far Wester Region, according to the chief executive officer of the Board Radhesh Pant.
Soon after completion of geological and hydrological tests, we will begin negotiations on Project Development Agreement (PDA) with the Chinese company,” he said, adding that the project will start generating power in 2023, if everything goes according to the plan.
Earlier in August 2012, the government had formally handed over the West Seti hydropower project – that was then aimed at domestic consumption – to the CWEI, after a memorandum of understanding was signed between the company and the Board. The board – that looks after mega projects – had then started preliminary negotiation with the project developer. But the NEA was hesitant to seal the deal as it was worried of power surplus by 2017 – as more power producers are generating power lately – whereas the Chinese developer was also not sure of the market, in case of power surplus in Nepal. The state power utility is the sole buyer of electricity developed by all the developers.
However, after Nepal-India Power Trade Agreement (PTA) recently, NEA and the Chinese developer, came near to agreement. The PTA allows both Nepal and India to buy and sell electricity.
The 750-MW project also got back on leak after the visit – in March end – of China Three Gorges Corporation chairman Lu Chun, who met with the premier Koirala to discuss the issues of resettlement and rehabilitation of the displaced families by the project.
The Board has also decided to charge $1,500 per MW in negotiation fee for Power Development Agreement (PDA) as the project is not handed through open bidding like Upper Karnali and Arun III. The developer has to pay the fee either the negotiations become successful or unsuccessful. A seven-member team has been formed under Pant for the negotiation.
The project was envisioned some two decades ago as Snowy Mountain Engineering Corporation (SMEC) had shown interest in developing the project. The first study was also conducted in 1987. The government was however forced to revoke the licence of the Australian company as it failed to start work after repeated renewal.
Meanwhile, the Board also decided to amend the project negotiation agreement for Tamakoshi III hydropower project. The chief executive is authorised for the amendment. It has also decided to form an expert committee to review the amendment.