Badal, Hinds propose privatizing power generation to solve blackouts

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Unreliable electricity supply has plagued the country for decades but a newly formed political party, Change Guyana which is headed by a former Chairman of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Inc., Robert Badal, believes it has all the answers to solve the problem.

Speaking at a press conference at the Pegasus Hotel on Tuesday, Badal proposed that power generation should be privatized and sold to GPL via Power Purchase Agreements (PPA). He said this measure is not new but is in fact used in many CARICOM countries.

“I must say in our sister countries like Trinidad and elsewhere, this is the model they use that the generation be handled privately by private power companies and the grid buy that power.

“What that will do is free GPL of huge investments in generating assets and allow GPL to have the cash flow to modernize the grid,” the Presidential Candidate said.

Badal proposed divesting 49% of GPL’s ownership to a strategic investor with a proven track record of successes in restructuring and managing power companies.

“This will inject private sector level of efficiency and productivity resulting in lower cost and reliability and remove reliance on the state or annual bailouts.”

At a press conference on June 5, 2019, Chief Executive Officer of GPL, Albert Gordon explained that the company’s transmission lines are not duplicated to assist if one cable is damaged.

GPL’s distribution network

Therefore, if one cable is damaged, a large section of customers is affected.

The business community is severely affected by frequent blackouts as a result of the power company’s inability to generate sufficient power.

In fact, several organisations have identified this scourge as an impediment to doing business.

At the start of Tuesday’s press conference, Badal said, “I was greeted by blackout this morning when I woke up. It came back, and then when I left home at about 10, the blackout came back again but it seems to be a perennial problem in our daily experiences.”

Other than privatisation, Badal who served as the Chairman of GPL from 2016 to 2018, is proposing all new investments in the generation to be fueled by Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) which is cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

He also suggested that the government take over all loans owed by GPL and improving the agency’s capacity.

Reading from a prepared statement, Badal said when he was heading the power company, he was in charge of monitoring the agency, setting targets and policies rather than operations management.

However, he boasted of having added $7B to GPL’s cash flow, reduce electricity cost and started the process to procure new generator sets for Regions two, four, seven and six.

Badal said 27% of each unit of power generated by GPL is lost.

Meanwhile, Change Guyana Prime Ministerial Candidate, Nigel Hinds pointed out that non-technical losses are one of the major contributors to overall losses.

He said collusion between employees and GPL, accounting errors, unpaid accounts and stealing of electricity are forms of non-technical losses.

Cutting the 27% down to five per cent is the aim, he said.

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