Liberia signs contract for hydro power equipment

Power Transmission30 October 2013, Monrovia – The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), through its Mt. Coffee Project Implementation Unit (PIU), has announced the signing of a contract between it and Voith Hydro GmbH & Co. KG, a German company, for the supply and installation of the generating equipment for the Mt. Coffee hydro power plant.

The generating equipment to be provided under this contract includes the turbines and generators (each with a capacity of over 20 MW), governors, generator circuit breakers, generator step-up transformers, gas-insulated switchgear, bridge crane, and associated equipment. The contract was signed on October 18 and October 23, 2013, in Monrovia and Heidenheim, Germany, respectively.

The turbines, generators, and auxiliary equipment are major components of the hydropower rehabilitation effort. The turbines are specialized equipment designed specifically for the Mt. Coffee plant, which require an engineering and manufacturing process of about two years’ duration. With the signing of this contract and Voith’s commencement of the work, LEC has effectively secured the major goal of the project, which is to achieve first power to Monrovia by December 15, 2015.

The contract’s schedule has the first turbine providing commercial power by this date, with the remaining turbines coming on line at two-month intervals during 2016.

Voith was awarded the contract following an international competitive bidding process that began in October 2012 and included the world’s best suppliers of hydro generating equipment. The procurement process included an initial pre-qualification of bidders to select potential contractors based on technical experience and financial capacity. Bid proposals were then submitted by three firms selected during the pre-qualification process. Following careful evaluation of the technical and financial proposals, Voith’s proposal was determined to provide the best value to the project.

In order to maintain the targeted project schedule, LEC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Voith Hydro on August 23, 2013, which enabled Voith to begin the engineering of the turbines while contract negotiations were being carried out. Though this is not a typical practice, it afforded LEC and Voith sufficient time to ensure the details of the final contract were carefully considered without compromising the project schedule. LEC has been very pleased with the commitment and confidence demonstrated by Voith Hydro in taking this extraordinary step.

Voith has a history with the Mt. Coffee Hydropower Plant: originally, the company Allis Chalmers was the supplier of the first hydro-turbine units at Mt. Coffee. In 1986, Voith Hydro took over Allis Chalmers. Since then, the company, based in New York, Pennsylvania, USA, is known by the name Voith Hydro Ltd.

Work on the Mt. Coffee Hydropower Rehabilitation Project began in May 2012 with the establishment of the PIU at LEC.

To date, the PIU has completed the high-level planning for the project, and in April 2013 contracted Norplan/Fichtner JV, the Owner’s Engineer, to carry out the detailed planning and procurement activities and to supervise construction. In addition to the generating equipment contract, tendering is underway for preparatory civil works and for the hydraulic steel works for the powerhouse. Tenders for the remaining civil works, the transmission lines and substations, and access road upgrades will be announced in the coming months. Visible work at the site is planned to start in January 2014.

– The Inquirer

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