GPL shutdown: Fewer blackouts promised as GPL tapping into older machines for power

… Wärtsilä team probing “some theories” about Garden of Eden issue

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By Vishani Ragobeer

Vishani@newsroom.gy

There has been some amount of planned power outages over the past few days as the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) temporarily shut down the massive Garden of Eden power plant but fewer blackouts are promised now that the company has tapped into more of its older machinery.

GPL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bharat Dindyal told the News Room that several pieces of equipment have been undergoing maintenance works or waiting to undergo maintenance works for some time now.

And with the loss of the massive 46.5 megawatts (MW) power plant at Garden of Eden on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD), Dindyal explained that efforts were made to intensify those works.

The GPL’s Garden of Eden Plant on the East Bank of Demerara (Photo: News Room/January 17, 2022)

“By today, we should have all the capacity that we could potentially access now,” Dindyal said during a telephone interview on Monday.

He explained that in total, the company should be able to provide about 120MW of power- which is just about the amount required to satisfy the current electricity demand.

That demand could increase to about 125MW if there are warmer temperatures experiences; however, if the weather remains cool, the 120MW that GPL can provide now should suffice.

“We are thinking though that barring anything un-sustained, we will be at just about peak or just short of peak ,so there won’t be any widespread load shedding,” Dindyal said.

For context, load shedding occurs where power companies reduce electricity consumption by switching off the power supply to some groups of customers because the system is at risk.

The Garden of Eden plant appeared to be at-risk, with officials and technicians fearing a massive, life-threatening explosion. And with the unavailability of 46.5 MWs of power that plant generated, there was some amount of load shedding at the weekend.

INVESTIGATIONS

Meanwhile, Dindyal also confirmed that a team of engineers from Wärtsilä have arrived in Guyana and are investigating “some theories” on what has gone wrong at the new East Bank power plant.

Wärtsilä is the company that constructed the plant; this facility only came into commercial operation in November 2021- just about two months ago.

GPL’s CEO Bharrat Dindyal briefs members of the Media at the Garden of Eden power plant Friday night

Early indications suggest that there may be some issue with a mechanical component that has undergone upgrades since the engines were manufactured. But Dindyal keenly pointed out that this is not a definitive cause.

Last Friday, Dindyal told reporters that some issues had been noticed for “about a month” now.

What prompted the shutting down of the plant, however, was an indication that fuel was getting into the exhaust system. Since fuel is a flammable substance, that could lead to a massive explosion at the plant.

Now on Monday, the CEO emphasised that Wärtsilä could have to do all that it can to rectify the issue. He also reminded the News Room that the machines are all under warranty.

He also pointed out that the legal team is reviewing the contract with the company to verify what penalties if any, the company would face due to the forced shutdown.

This comes after President Dr. Irfaan Ali, at the sidelines of an event on Saturday morning, highlighted that he has tasked Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall with reviewing the contract between Wärtsilä and GPL.

This review is being done to understand if the company has been in breach of the agreement it has with the local utility company.

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