Part 1: Delivery of Power Generator URJA:
Gorkhaly Foundation delivered power generator “Urja” to Barpak, Nepal, giving 1200 families access to food and light in wake of disastrous earthquake.
On May 25, 2015, the Foundation delivered a power generator (Urja) to the village of Barpak, a month after the earthquake. Urja (meaning energy in Nepali) was the name given to the diesel generator typically used for power supply in places like Barpak that had lost all connection to power grids.
While permanent access to energy was in the long-term goals for Barpak, Urja served the immediate energy needs of the village. Urja supplied electricity to run the village food mill that fed 1200 households giving Barpak immediate food security, supported lighting for temporary- shelters, health post, local businesses, and schools, and also provided electricity for communication.
On Urja’s arrival, local community leader and Ashoka Fellow Bir Bahadur Ghale had responded with gratitude saying – “We got the electricity line from the generator yesterday. From tomorrow we will start the mills to grind flour and rice. 1200 families will have access to food, and to light. Also, communication is key, everyone has a mobile phone, and if they can easily charge their mobiles, I hope that it will make their lives easier in many ways. I would like to give many thanks to all our well-wishers in the US who worked through the Gorkhaly Foundation and Nepal Ko Yuwa to make this happen.”
Part 2: Winner of a National Geographic’s Great Energy Challenge Grant to Restore Micro Hydro Plant
On April 25, 2016 Rehabilitation and upgrade of the earthquake destroyed Micro Hydro Power Plant in Barpak, Nepal was completed. Provision of soft loans to local enterprises for rehabilitation and operation of the cottage industry using generated electricity was subsequently completed in April, 2017.
The purpose of the project was to restore energy access to the rural village of Barpak in Nepal by rehabilitation and upgrade of a 133kW micro hydropower (MHP) mini-grid in Barpak Village destroyed by the 2015 earthquake. The project also sought to sustain energy demand and supply through investments in rehabilitation of Productive End-Use Enterprise (PEEs) by providing soft loans, which will symbiotically benefit from electricity, and increase and diversify revenue of MHP mini-grid making the overall model sustainable. Using this model, the project aimed at restoring the local economy through investments in rehabilitation of electricity as well as local businesses that would then consume electricity.
Project was jointly conducted by a consortium of (i) Barpak Rural Electrification (BRE) (P) Ltd., (ii) Hydro Energy Concern (HEC) (P) Ltd., and (iii) Gorkhaly Foundation, collectively referred as BRE-C. Goals for each are stated below:
Barpak Rural Electrification (BRE) is a special purpose company Pvt. Ltd. registered in Nepal, which has been supplying electricity to the community of Barpak under the existing laws and regulations of the Government of Nepal for 25 years. The company owned and operated the 130 kW Micro Hydro Power plant (MHP) solely delivering electricity in Barpak that was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. BRE’s goal was to rehabilitate and upgrade the power plant, as well as the restore electric supply in Barpak, which they ensured in April 2016, a year after the devastation.
Hydro Energy Concern (HEC) Pvt. Ltd. was the co-sponsor and assisted in arranging investments for BRE to rehabilitate the MHP. As the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) partner, HEC was responsible for designing and building the MHP. This entailed carrying out construction, installations, subcontracting civil and electro-mechanical work, and overseeing work of subcontractors. HEC as a financial sponsor with highly qualified engineers, technicians, and administrative staff added value in both finding financing and in carrying out EPC work.
Gorkhaly Foundation (GF) is an all-volunteer run Virginia-based organization registered as a 501-c3 charity. GF’s goal was provision of technical assistance in conceptualizing the project, seeking funding, and ensuring its successful implementation. GF also provided technical assistance under component 2 of the project facilitating the set up of the community cooperative to disburse loans to local businesses that would consume the electricity generated. GF also helped set up criterions for loans such that recipients are financially sustainable to assure payback to lenders and returns to entrepreneurs, and supported drafting of business plans to inform loan making. GF was also instrumental in helping set up an advisory committee in the village that will play an oversight role in ensuring that the terms for the MHP and the cooperative are adhered to.
On April 25, 2016, BRE-C was successful in securing the National Geographic’s Great Energy Challenge Grant of US$70,000. BRE-C used the grant fund of US$ 40,000 as capital grant to help rehabilitate and upgrade the 133 kW MHP, which generates 1.1 Giga Watt hours (GWh) of electricity annually. The grant has made the MHP operation financially viable with a reasonable internal rate of return (IRR, while keeping electricity tariffs affordable. MHP rehabilitation was completed, and electricity was restored in the village since 25 April 2016. Besides grants mobilized by BRE-C, subsidies for PEEs as provisioned in Renewable Energy Subsidy Policy 2013 was also applied for and received.
BRE-C facilitated formation of a community cooperative for disbursement of US$ 30,000 to PEEs. 13 PEEs have been approved for loans, which will be handed out on May 1, 2017 at the first annual general meeting of the cooperative. The loans will support local business in securing initial capital cost for construction, rehabilitation and for purchase of major equipment. BRE-C also set up an advisory council in the village that will be responsible for ensuring that the cooperative, and the MHP adhere to the terms and conditions agreed upon.
1200 Household of Barpak and adjoining villages with approx. 15,000 people, local business and enterprises are benefitting from this undertaking. The electricity service has not only given the village its “light” back but will restore operation of agro-processing mill for food security, communication towers, construction equipment to rebuild Barpak’s homes, hospitals, schools, public facilities, and rural enterprises. Additionally, 13 PEEs in Barpak have been approved for loans which will further the economic growth in the village. These PEEs will provide affordable goods and services to the community and create income and employment opportunities. The project will directly contribute to sustainable energy driven endogenous economic growth and recovery in Barpak.