IMCK Hydroelectric Power Line Replacement Project
The IMCK hydroelectric facility in Tshikaji, Democratic Republic of Congo, was commissioned in 1988 and started providing critical electrical power for the Good Shepherd Hospital and ITM/ISTM schools. In addition, water pumps at the facility provided a steady flow of water from the Lubi River to IMCK’s campus.
This supply of electric power and water is crucial for the successful operation of the IMCK facilities, especially in DR Congo where public utilities simply do not exist. Imagine your local medical clinic or hospital trying to function without power and water!
Over the ensuing years, the hydro facility has been maintained by a combination of Congolese technicians and Presbyterian mission co-workers. They have done a great job in keeping things working in a very challenging environment. Vegetation encroaching on the dam which increases flooding and erosion risk, lack of spare parts, and just the general aging of equipment – turbines, gear boxes, generators, speed regulators (governors), transformers – have required constant attention and at times, replacement.
One key component in the hydroelectric system is often overlooked because it is literally out of sight: the high-voltage transmission line which connects the 3-phase power source at the hydro central facility to the IMCK campus located 2.3 miles away. This line is composed of three buried cables which carry 12,000 volts between the two locations and is then reduced, or “stepped down” by transformers at the hospital to a more useable 220 volts AC.
Even buried cables age over time due to degradation of insulating materials, water encroachment and lightning strikes which stress insulation of the cables. Industry wisdom places the lifetime of cables such as these at 25 years. We are at the 35-year mark now!
But there are signs of weakening in these cables as more faults are occurring and an increasing frequency of cable repair, using splice kits, is required. The picture below gives you an idea of the work involved in locating the cable fault, excavating the cable trench, cutting out the faulty section, and splicing in new cable.
Recently, a team of former Presbyterian Church (USA) mission co-workers (Dr. John Fletcher, Bill Kell, and Bob Irish) have been developing a plan to replace the high-voltage transmission line. They have been consulting with an organization that has experience in African countries providing design and construction for installations such as this.
The project is divided into three phases which are described below.
The initial phase of the project includes a survey trip to familiarize the team with the hydro installation and the routing/termination of the high-voltage cables which will be replaced. This trip is planned for late September of 2023. The goal for this trip is to be able to develop a more detailed project plan and get a good understanding of material. tooling and labor requirements to complete the transmission line installation. The project plan will be an important part of our efforts to locate funding for Phase 2. Estimated cost for this survey trip is $5,000.
The second phase of the project involves locating a potential funding agency/organization (initial construction of the hydro involved funding from USAID and the Medical Benevolence Foundation) and making the necessary applications which will include the project plan and a copy of a recent audit from IMCK. This phase is estimated to take at least a year and potentially longer depending on the funding methodology. Early cost estimates for this phase of the project are $350,000.
The final phase of the project includes:
- Procurement of required materials and tooling
- Shipping materials to Tshikaji (we estimate this will involve 2-3 containers)
- Coordinating labor for the installation project
- Installing the new transmission line and any associated connection systems and protection devices
- Final testing and re-commissioning of the entire power system.
This is a big project that will take a lot of resources: time, money, hard work and prayers! With God’s help we will succeed in this major hydro improvement and allow IMCK to continue saving and changing lives in the name of Jesus.
If you would like to support the costs of this project, please see the donation instructions below. To learn more about IMCK, check out the other pages on this website.
How to Donate to this Project
You may mail a check made out to “Medical Benevolence Foundation” at the address listed below. Please designate “IMCK Hydro Power Line” on the memo line of the check.
MBF Financial Processing Center
PO Box 96877
Washington, D.C. 20090
By Credit Card:
To make a secure credit card donation online:
- Go to the MBF website at mbf.org
- Click on the “Give” button
- Enter your donation amount and credit card information
- Under “Giving Options”, select “As noted below” and enter “IMCK Hydro Power Line” in the space provided
(MBF is a 501c3 charitable organization and your donation may be tax deductible where permitted by law. Their EIN is 62-6046138)
To assist with donation tracking – or if you have any questions about the project – please contact us at: .