Kurichhu Hydropower Plant

Project scheme            :  Run-of-the-river
Project commission    :  2001 – 2002

Kurichhu hydropower plant (KHP), located on Kurichhu in eastern Bhutan in Gyalpozhing, Mongar, is one of the power plants of DGPC. Unlike other power plants, the dam and powerhouse are located in the same location with the powerhouse constructed at the toe of the dam and the switchyard in between these two components. The project was inaugurated by His Royal Highness Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Trongsa Poenlop, and His Excellency Shri Sudhir Vyas, Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, on April 26, 2006.

Kurichhu was set up to provide a reliable source of energy for the eastern and central districts of Bhutan.

Operation and Maintenance

Initially, power evacuation was affected due to frequent outages of the single 132 kV Kurichhu-Nangkor-Tingtibi-Jigmeling-Gelephu-Salakati export transmission line. It was significantly improved after the commissioning of an alternate power evacuation route to India through the 132 kV Nangkor-Deothang-Montanga-Rangia line in 2013. With the interconnection of the western and eastern power at Jigmeling, Gelephu, the reliability of the power supply has further improved.

Renovation and Modernisation

Due to the normal ageing of the plant and the non-availability of spares for the old equipment in the market, phase-wise renovation and modernisation works are being initiated. Replacement of the protection system from conventional electro-magnetic type to numerical was initiated in 2014-2015 followed by the upgradation of the control and monitoring system to the SCADA system along with the governing and excitation systems in 2020 by BHUTAN AUTOMATION. In 2021, the Kaplan runner in Unit 3 was replaced for the first time since the project’s commissioning. This runner replacement work involves semi-erection of the unit. The rehabilitation of the dam stilling basin and spillway glacis are in progress.

Socio-Economic Benefits and Sustainability

Above and beyond providing a reliable power source to the ten eastern and central districts, KHP has caused positive spillover effects in the form of basic amenities. The project set up a school, hospital and community centres, including a Lhakhang in its vicinity.

KHP continues to support the Druk Green “Being Green” initiative through regular landscaping and plantation activities. The plant is conscious of the need to maintain a sense of harmony with the community and environment. In doing so, KHP initiates the maintenance and protection of downstream aquatic life. Further, KHP sensitises the social and environmental issues that confront the hydropower sector, thereby ensuring a healthy and sustainable environment.

A major initiative by DGPC management is the establishment of early childhood care and development centres across its offices. This has eased the burden on working parents, resulting in efficiency at the workplace.