‘Good for Guyana’ – PPP/C will not abandon Amaila Falls Hydropower Project – Pres. Ali


By Kurt Campbell


Still seeking a partner, the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) says it will revive its brainchild, the 165-megawatt Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP), although it may no longer be able to move ahead with its intention to start construction in 2022 and complete the project in 2025.

The assurance came from President Dr. Irfaan Ali on Thursday who revisited the party’s 2020 election manifesto to demonstrate that the government was well on its way to delivering on its promises of affordable, stable, and reliable energy.

The PPP/C had promised to foster an energy mix that includes hydro, solar, wind and natural gas while ensuring increased production of 400 megawatts of newly installed capacity.

President Dr Irfaan Ali

The two biggest contributors to this are the 250 megawatts gas-to-energy project which is slated for Wales on the West Bank of Demerara (WBD) and the 165 megawatts Amaila Falls Hydropower Project.

Dr. Ali said on Thursday that the contract for the gas-to-shore project should be signed before the end of the year but although the China Railway Group Limited, a company that was initially selected to construct the Amaila Falls in 2012 had once again been granted approval to start construction, the government may have to now retender the project.

This is because China Railway Group Limited is reportedly having difficulties honouring its commitment to the Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) contract that is signed.

Under that contract, the project should have cost US$700 million.

The government maintains that it is holding the company to the BOOT bid they submitted. If an amicable arrangement cannot be met, the government is willing to retender the project.

“We are not going to abandon this project. If we have to go out again and again, we will go out.

“We know the studies and everything including the independent review by Norway point to this project being good for Guyana, the environment and will bring greater prosperity.

“So, this project will get underway,” Dr. Ali said on Thursday.

China Railway Group Limited had promised to supply electricity to the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Inc. at a cost not exceeding US$0.07737 per kilowatt-hour (KWH).

The Amaila Falls project was first identified in 1976 by the Canadian company ‘Monenco’ during an extensive survey of hydroelectric power potential in Guyana.

In 2009, this project was launched as part of Guyana’s efforts to pursue a more low-carbon future, using fewer fossil fuels like the heavy oil that GPL currently utilises.

In 2014, the government earmarked US$80 million earned by Guyana under the Guyana-Norway partnership within the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) to help finance equity in the project.

But the project was voted down in the National Assembly by the APNU+AFC coalition and eventually shelved despite a 2016 Norwegian study supporting its merit.

When the current Irfaan Ali-led government was voted into office last year, however, efforts to revive this project got underway.

Emphasis has been placed on this project since Guyana’s electricity demand will triple in the next five years and the government is looking to meet the challenge, not by burning more diesel and heavy oil, but through natural gas and hydropower.

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