APNU/AFC Responsible for Electricity Generating Shortfall Today

We refer to David Patterson’s letter published in the April 3, 2024 issue of Stabroek News on the subject of the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL), and wish to make the following observations.
The APNU/AFC is wholly responsible for the current shortfall in electricity generation at GPL
and, by extension, for the electricity woes being faced by the People of Guyana today.
In 2013, the APNU/AFC used their parliamentary majority to block the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP), after a protracted effort on their part to derail the project. As a direct result of the APNU/AFC’s vote against this project, the Blackstone Group (whose market capitalisation stands today at US$157 billion) and their power development subsidiary at the time, Sithe Global, were forced to withdraw from the project.
Had AFHP not been obstructed by the APNU/AFC, it would have been in operation today supplying the national grid with 165 MW of electricity.
Not content with the damage done by blocking AFHP, the APNU/AFC remains up to today intent on denying the Guyanese People adequate electricity generation for the foreseeable future. This is evident in their efforts to delay and derail the Gas to Energy (GtE) project. As was the case with AFHP, the GtE project is being developed in partnership with credible international partners including, in this instance, ExxonMobil and the Lindsayca/CH4 consortium. This project, when completed, will supply the national grid with 300 MW of electricity.
Despite their stated opposition to both AFHP and GtE, the APNU/AFC is yet to propose a single at-scale alternative to either of these projects. They did not propose an alternative throughout the 2011 to 2015 period when they derailed AFHP, they spent five years in government from 2015 to 2020 and still did not propose (much less develop and implement) an alternative, and they have spent the period from 2020 to 2024 criticising the GtE, still failing to propose an alternative lasting solution to the country’s longstanding challenges with electricity.
Instead, Patterson’s letter states that “GPL under the coalition administration procured 63 MW of brand-new generating sets, increasing the generating capacity of the company by 50%, a never-before-seen expansion in generating capacity in such a short period”. This statement is factually inaccurate and, to put it politely, blatantly disingenuous.
During the period from 2015 to 2019, GPL procured and installed a total of 14.2 MW at Canefield, Anna Regina, and Bartica. No other new generating capability of any significance was installed during the APNU/AFC’s term in office.
When confronted with the combination of their abject failure to address the electricity woes facing the country, as well as the prospect of being booted out of office as a result of the no confidence motion, the APNU/AFC government then rushed to procure an additional 46.5 MW of generating capability. It is worthwhile to note that, having failed to raise financing to purchase the 46.5 MW, the APNU/AFC government then resorted to finance the purchase illegally in the absence of a budget for 2020, by making unauthorised withdrawals from the consolidated fund and purporting to grant loans to GPL without the requisite prior parliamentary appropriation.
These 46.5 MW remained undelivered and uninstalled at the time the APNU/AFC eventually demitted office in August 2020, and so cannot possibly be counted in Patterson’s claim of “never-before-seen expansion in generating capacity”.
Meanwhile, after the APNU/AFC assumed office in 2015, fuel prices plummeted. In 2014, the last full year that the PPP/C was in office, crude oil averaged US$98.95 a barrel. By 2016, this had declined to US$43.73 a barrel, less than a half the price of two years prior. This was mirrored in the weighted average fuel price per barrel paid by GPL, which declined by 54 percent from 2014 to 2016, and which remained relatively low until 2020.

Despite this sharp and sustained decline in fuel prices, the APNU/AFC did not pass on the benefit of lower fuel costs to consumers by a corresponding reduction in electricity tariffs, granting instead a meagre 10 percent reduction in electricity prices in the wake of a 54 percent reduction in fuel acquisition costs.
At the same time, the cash windfall that should have accumulated to GPL was squandered, including by allowing blatant delinquency on the part of Government consumers of electricity, with the effect that by the time the APNU/AFC demitted office, GPL was owed $12 billion by government entities. This had a devastating impact on GPL’s cash flows and impaired the company’s ability to upgrade and maintain its capital stock.
All of the above serve to illustrate that, like so many other sectors of the economy, the electricity sector was not spared the consequences of the APNU/AFC’s political vindictiveness, acute lack of vision, and their abject ineptitude and sheer incompetence.
The responsibility for today’s electricity challenges, therefore, rests squarely at the feet of the APNU/AFC, who obstructed AFHP, bankrupted GPL, and are now seeking to undermine the GtE, all which this PPP/C government is now seeking to repair and overcome. Needless to say, Patterson concludes his letter with the customary sanctimonious refrain, appealing for what he describes as a “real democracy”.
Thankfully, the People of Guyana know Patterson and the APNU/AFC for their unique model of “real democracy”: one where the constitutional consequences of a no confidence motion can be ignored, and where an incumbent government can refuse to accept defeat in an internationally observed election and hold on to power until the threat of international sanctions is visited upon the country.
Thankfully, the People of Guyana know Patterson and the APNU/AFC for what they are and have always been: dictatorial, visionless, inept, and sanctimonious.
In order to achieve a lasting solution to the problems faced by the electricity sector, this PPP/C government has installed and is operationalising the 46.5 MW that APNU/AFC failed to deliver and an additional 28.9 MW at Columbia. Other options for short term relief to the generation shortfall are also being explored. Additionally, 33 MW of solar capacity is being installed in Berbice, Essequibo, and Linden. And, for the medium term, work has already commenced on the 300 MW GtE, and proposals are currently being evaluated for the 165 MW AFHP. Additionally, US$160 million is being invested in upgrading the transmission and distribution system to improve its capability and reliability. Government has also instructed that GPL accelerate efforts to eliminate internal inefficiencies and improve the quality of its operations. These and other interventions aim to address short-term deficiencies and deliver medium and longer-term solutions.

Hon. Dr. Ashni K. Singh, M.P.
Senior Minister in the Office of the President
with Responsibility for Finance and the Public Service

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