GPL working towards ‘100% record of no power outages’

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By Bibi Khatoon

As the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) celebrate its 18th anniversary, Chief Executive Officer (ag), Renford Homer outlined the state of the company and where it would like to be in the years ahead.

He noted that GPL “prefers to be a utility with 100% record of no outages, 100% record of no fluctuation in voltages and 100% record of seeing smiling faces every time we look out at our customer base.”

However, to get there, Homer pointed out that one of the major obstacles is the size of the investment needed. At a media dinner on Friday, October 13 at the Grand Coastal Inn, he admitted that the power company has seen a number of “injections of financing, either through GPL or other sources” but noted that there is still need for more. In the meantime, the acting CEO said the company has a number of innovative projects on stream, some of which have been implemented to bring relief to customers.

Homer explained that “electricity over the years has become the lifeblood for many of us. There was a time when it wasn’t that important if there was an outage—it’s something which we could’ve lived through until the service was restored. But over the years, what we’ve recognized that there is an increased dependence on things that require this source of energy, so it has gone beyond just electricity—it’s almost like the life-blood of our being, almost the life-blood of our economy.”

As such, he recognized that the bar keeps getting higher and the company needs to do better but “for reasons that can be explained from time to time, there are glitches in the system,” which throw the company back to where it was.

It is his belief that the company is clear on its mandate and it is not something which cannot be achieved, as he expressed gratitude to the staff of GPL.

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan during his 2015 National Budget speech outlined that GPL is known to have poor operational, financial and technical capability due to high energy and technical losses and fuel price volatility. He said it would require not only massive tariff increases but guarantees that taxpayers, through the treasury, will provide transfers to meet its obligation.

In 2016, the government announced an investment of $2.5 billion in initiatives to improve GPL’s operational management capabilities. Approximately 830 km of the main distribution network was scheduled to be operated.

The Government had also announced that it is negotiating a power purchase agreement with a private developer for a US$50 million wind farm at Hope Beach to provide an additional 25 megawatts of power to the national grid—however, the project has not materialized.

According to the 2017 National budget, GPL was projected to record a deficit of $5 billion at the end of this year.

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