‘We’re going to fix it’ – Pres. Ali pleads for citizens’ understanding as GPL expects more power by Christmas
In a direct appeal to citizens on Saturday, President Dr. Irfaan Ali assured that the issues at the Guyana Power and Light – the country’s main electricity generating company – which have resulted in prolonged power outages in recent weeks, will be fixed.
And even as the utility company employs a number of temporary solutions with peak demand just above its current installed generating capacity, Dr. Ali said relief is expected by mid-December, ahead of the highly anticipated Christmas holidays.
“We’re going to fix it.
“Every challenge will be addressed,” Dr. Ali said in a televised address from State House – the official residence of the President.
The expectation is that 30mw of additional power will be added to the system by mid-December as the government imposes new measures to get big users of electricity to go back to self-generating, at least during peak hours.
The President appealed for the understanding and patience of citizens at this time but offered a full explanation of the issues at hand that have resulted in daily power outages across the country.
The first issue, Dr. Ali said, was unnecessary time and resources being invested in the last three years to upgrade the electricity network that was neglected by the former APNU+AFC government where there was little to no investment in expanding and building additional capacity to meet the increasing demand.
He said the government has found itself in a situation where it is swimming against the tide as it looks to make up for lost time.
“This is why gas-to-energy project and hydroelectric project is so important,” Dr. Ali said.
The ensuing Wales Gas-to-Energy project will add a capacity of 300mw to the system and had the Amaila Falls Hydro Power Project come on stream as anticipated in 2013, there would have been an additional 165mw of power currently available.
That project was blocked by the same APNU+AFC opposition and the PPP/C government has not been able to bring it back on stream yet. Notwithstanding, the commitment remains.
The former government only installed a 5.5mw Hyundai generator in 2018 that failed shortly after and invested in three generators at Garden of Eden for US$50 million with a total capacity of 46.5mw which it never brought on stream.
Currently, the PPP/C government is subsidizing electricity generation by over US$100 million with VAT removed on electricity and the price for fuel moving from US$41 to US$91 per barrel between 2020 and 2023. The corporate tax on fuel is being absorbed by the government.
So what’s the plan?
With new capacity installed in the last three years, GPL has found that peak demand has moved from 110mw to 185mw; the company is generating 10mw below that peak demand.
So in addition to massive investments already made on the maintenance of the neglected transmission and distribution network, the 300MW gas-t0-energy project is being constructed, and a total of 84km of new transmission lines are being installed.
Dr. Ali said that within the coming weeks, the government will seek new expressions of interest for the Amaila Falls Hydro Power Project.
And with the subsidization of electricity and the return of large and once self-generating consumers to the grid, the government will seek to impose a minimal tax as it encourages a return to self-generating during peak hours (between 13:00hrs and 16:00hrs and 18:00hrs and 22:00hrs.)
These along with new installed capacity by December are expected to provide both short-term and long-term relief to citizens.