THE K100 million PNG Forest Products’ (PNGFP) Upper Baiune hydro power project in Bulolo, Morobe will start full commercial operations on March 2.
The revamped power plant is the oldest surviving power station in PNG since the Morobe gold rush days in the 1930s.
This is the first time that a private organisation will supply electricity to PNG Power.
“Testing and commissioning began on Dec 23, 2012 and the new power station is now actually operating and supplying power to PNG Power’s Ramu grid,” a PNGFP spokesman said.
“The project is a major undertaking for PNG Forest Products and is the first such project in PNG, whereby a hydro power station has been built by a private organisation, purely as a commercial venture to supply power to PNG Power,” the PNGFP spokesman said.
“It has an installed capacity of 9.4MW.
“In addition, the project is constructed on customary land, which has been sub-leased by the Katumani integrated land group (ILG) landowners to PNGFP, and therefore the Katumani landowners are also important partners in the project.
“This project also conforms to the PNG government’s public private partnership (PPP) policy concerning infrastructure development.”
The company has operated two hydro power stations at Baiune with a combined capacity of 5.5MW, which were built pre-war to supply power to the gold dredges.
Today, they supply the total power requirements for the company township of Bulolo and also Wau and Highland Products at Zenag.
“All the gold dredges were driven by electric motors and as more dredges were added, firstly the lower Baiune and then the upper Baiune hydro-power stations were built,” according to the company’s website.
“These power stations were sabotaged in 1942 as part of the Australian army’s Scorched Earth policy.
“Consequently, extensive rehabilitation work was required after the end of WWII.
“The electrical plant to rebuild the power stations was manufactured in 1944 and commissioned in 1946-47.
“However, a fire in 1984 destroyed the upper Baiune power station and was rebuilt in 1985.”
The Baiune hydro-electric power stations supply all the electricity consumed in the Wau and Bulolo areas.
Although the technology used is old, the equipment was manufactured to an extremely high standard.
The Lower Baiune station has operated continuously since 1947.