The permanent secretary at the Department of State for Energy, Baboucarr Jallow, recently presided over the inauguration ceremony of the first ever wind energy project in Batokunku in Kombo South. He was representing the Secretary of State for Energy at the event.
In his inaugural speech, the permanent secretary said, "I am very delighted to be here in Batokunku to lend support to a new innovation and development for The Gambia's energy supply. We will utilise electricity generated from turbines to power communities."
He stated that the Batokunku project marks the beginning of a new innovation and consists of a single turbine capable of generating 150K VA for villagers. He further stated that 80 compounds have been connected to the distribution grid and will be supplied by the turbine. He added that any excess energy will be sold to NAWEC.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Peter Weissferdt, the principal provider, and the community of Batokunku for their perseverance in seeing this project realised," Mr. Jallow said.
He also hailed the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and NAWEC for their support, without which the project could not be achieved.
Peter Weissferdt said the project was started in 1999 with the installation of an underground cable network with more than six kilometres of cable. He revealed that the next year a 150 KVA wind converter with a total height of 40metres and wings of 27 metres were shipped to Batokunku.
He revealed that the basic nature of the project is non-profit. "The village has a sub-institute called 'Batokunku Wind Power' which is lead by an 'electricity committee' elected by the people of the village. This group will be technically and commercially responsible for the production and supply of electricity from the turbine," Mr. Weissferdt said.
Alagie B. Gaye, the director of PURA, said the occasion marked an important milestone on a journey started some time ago. Mr. Gaye applauded the community of Batokunku for their initiative and he encouraged customers and the public to move away from dependence on one source and look for alternatives.
In December 2007, he stated, the Public Utilities Authority received a licence to distribute electricity in Batokunku, PURA responded, after initial discussions on the matter, and dispatched its engineers on a fact finding mission to gather the necessary information to process the application.
"During our investigation, we realised that there was an impasse between NAWEC and the project and a conclusion could not be reached regarding a power purchase agreement. PURA facilitated negotiations between the two parties so that ultimately the villagers could get electricity," Mr. Gaye said.
For his part, the Alkalo of Batokunku village, Alagie Fafa Jatta, that Peter Weifessedt and PURA for the initiative.