Guyanese have been grappling with a spate of power outages occurring countrywide, and the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) has promised to bring an end to the phenomenon of chronic blackout by today.
This assurance was given by GPL Public Relations Officer Shevion Sears during a press conference held on Friday. Acknowledging the frequency of these power outages, Sears noted that a number of planned and unplanned maintenance exercises were having an adverse effect on the Demerara/Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS).
“It’s a generation shortfall, and it’s alternating; so it wouldn’t be one person (suffering all the time). We’re doing it by areas. So, sometimes during the day, certain customers may experience outages, and in the night, another set (would have that experience). So it’s rotating (the) load-shedding.
“Everything will return to normalcy on Saturday (today), because we expect to finish the Number Two engine on Saturday; that will bring our generation capacity up,”
Sears told media operatives.
Sears said that when the Skeldon Wartsila units and the Co-Generator plant are fully functional, the available generating capacity is 137 megawatts. She noted that the total generating capacity in the DBIS is currently 106 megawatts.
“Which means we are operating with a generation shortfall of approximately 3 megawatts during the day peak, and 6 megawatts during the night peak,” she explained.
Giving a breakdown of the planned and unplanned maintenance work, Sears said that three engines at Garden of Eden were down for maintenance overhaul work. One of these engines constitutes 5.5 megawatts, while the other two are 6.9 megawatts.
Sears noted that unplanned maintenance work is also being done by Skeldon Energy Incorporation (SEI) on its Wartsila engines at the Skeldon, Berbice sugar estate.
Back in February 2017, SEI had informed the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) that the co-generation plant was unsafe to operate. It had advised that the First Crop 2017 should no longer take place, since approximately seven months were required to address the problem.
According to GuySuCo, the co-generation plant has been deteriorating over the years. The corporation has said the plant has become progressively unreliable, adversely affecting the operations of the sugar factory, and causing reduced sugar production.
The corporation had said that overtures were being made to external engineers and boiler manufacturers, to determine the extent of repairs required — and the concomitant cost — to sustain the efficiency and safety of the boiler operations.
The estate in total costs some US$200M. The Skeldon co-generation plant in its own right reportedly has the capacity to produce 40 megawatts of electricity. It is outfitted with Wartsila engines and a steam plant powered by bagasse, and provides power to the national grid.
The unavailability of power from SEI is compounded by the 2.3 megawatts GPL has lost as a result of a fire that occurred at the Onverwagt Power Station, West Coast Berbice on Thursday at about 21:42hrs, when a failed connecting rod on the No. 5 Unit allegedly punctured a block.
“The quick response of the Guyana Fire Service averted major damage to equipment housed at the station,’ a release from the company has stated. “GPL is currently assessing the damage and an investigation will be conducted.”
It isn’t the first time that a fire and accident would have struck at GPL. Last month, after much outcry from citizens due to power outages, the company had stated that “a botched tree trimming exercise and a burnt jumper” were among the reasons for the electricity woes.
GPL’s Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Renford Homer, also explained that shutdown of the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS) had resulted in a generation shortfall occasioned by reduced generation reserve.
Homer also explained that when the demand was about 84 megawatts, there were 87 megawatts available for generation, which left only three megawatts of reserve capacity, instead of the normal 20 megawatts. Moreover, the machines at Skeldon and Garden of Eden had also been cited.