The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has called for tenders to install underground power cables in the northern part of the Kathmandu Valley served by its Maharajgunj Distribution Centre.
The state-owned power utility has decided to put electricity cables underground and remove overhead lines in a bid to improve the distribution system.
The project, funded by the Nepal government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), seeks to meet the growing energy demand in the Valley and increase the capacity and reliability of distribution networks by undergrounding and automating the networks, using insulated cables for overhead lines and using smart meters.
According to the bid notice issued on Sunday, international competitive bidding will be conducted in accordance with the ADB’s ‘single stage two-envelope bidding procedure’ where interested parties have to submit the technical and financial bids in two envelopes. The technical bids will be opened on September 20 in the presence of the bidders’ representatives who choose to attend while the financial bids will remain sealed and unopened and be kept in a locked box. The financial bids of only the technically qualified bidders will be opened, and the rest will be returned unopened after the contract is awarded, according to the procedure.
The NEA has been mulling to adopt a horizontal erection gridding system to lay underground cables as less damage will be caused to roads this way. Under this system, power lines can be laid over a distance of 100 metres by drilling a pit at one place. Also, the road will be black topped immediately after the work is completed, according to the NEA. The major reason behind removing the existing overhead lines and installing an underground system is to increase the reliability of the distribution system besides increasing the capacity, according to the NEA. “The power utility’s existing distribution system is very fragile leading to abrupt power cuts despite adequate supply,” said Kulman Ghising, managing director of the NEA.
The Valley’s existing distribution network can’t support a load of more than 400 MW. The NEA is planning to upgrade it to be able to support up to 2,000 MW. “Laying underground cables along with building new substations will enhance our load bearing capacity,” said Ghising.
In the second phase, the NEA plans to replace the electric wires under the Ratna Park Distribution Centre by underground cables, and gradually, replace the distribution system of the entire Valley. Apart from laying underground power cables, the NEA is also preparing to construct three 132 kV substations at Phutung, Mulpani and Chapagaun to increase the load capacity of the electricity distribution system in the Valley.