GPL still recovering from mismanagement under APNU/AFC regime – PM

– says measures to be implemented against accidents, network disruptions

Asserting that the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Incorporated is still recovering from the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change’s (APNU/AFC) years of mismanagement, Prime Minister, Brigadier (retired) Mark Phillips has refuted recent claims from the Opposition on GPL’s performance.
In a statement, Phillips – who has responsibility for the energy sector – said that AFC Member of Parliament (MP) David Patterson is “deliberately misleading the public” on GPL, by claiming in his party’s latest press conference that power outages resulting from accidents are a key indicator that GPL’s network is failing.
“Opposition Member of Parliament David Patterson has ascribed to himself the power to create problems where there are none, on account for his recent malicious claims against the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Inc,” Phillips said in a missive.
“Let me remind the Opposition Member that the power company is still recovering from the period of gross misdirection and the absence of a clear policy direction under the APNU/AFC 2015-2020 Government. Therefore, I unequivocally refute the Opposition MP’s misplaced and misguided statement that the company procures ‘cheap plastic products that only last 3 months.”
The Prime Minister explained that since GPL’s primary distribution network is located on the shoulders of main roads, the power flow will be disrupted by vehicular collisions. He assured, however, that the Government will be implementing bollards, a type of crash barrier, around the distribution posts, to mitigate against these collisions.
“When vehicles collide with these structures, the power flow is disturbed above the prescribed limit thus activating the protection systems on the grid to prevent further damage to the network and generating assets. In some instances, this can result in widespread outages.”
“We have noted the alarmingly increased number of vehicular collisions with primary structures and will shortly commence the installation of bollards around identified critical structures. Bollards are already installed around 69kV transmission structures along the East Coast of Demerara Public Road for this very reason,” Phillips said.
Phillips also debunked Patterson’s assertions that GPL’s procurement process during his term as Minister of Public Infrastructure (2015-2020) was better compared with GPL’s current procurement process.
“It is important to put this inaccurate assertion into context. GPL procures significant quantities of network components (transformers, conductors, fuses, switches, insulators etc) to ensure that planned and emergency maintenance is efficiently executed. The company procures these items at significant costs, second only to fuel purchases.”
“During 2017, the company, having a database of network components supplied by reputable industry standard manufacturers, approached these manufacturers to explore possibilities of acquiring materials at manufacturers’ prices (reduced prices),” Phillips explained.
The Prime Minister noted that at the time, nearly all these manufacturing companies (with the exception of pre- and post-paid meter manufacturers Itron and Hexing) redirected GPL to their authorised distributors.
“It is important to note that these authorised suppliers were already established suppliers to GPL. The Opposition MP’s further aspersion is woefully misguided and appears to be a calculated attempt to mislead the public. GPL’s network materials have always been defined by technical specifications stipulated by industry-standard Power Utility Catalogues.”
“GPL’s transparent tendering process requires that bidders must provide Manufacturers’ Authorizations and Manufacturers’ Warranties. Bidders must also fully comply with the stipulated industry standard Technical Specifications,” the Prime Minister elucidated.
At their press conference last Friday, Patterson had warned Guyana to brace for more blackouts unless GPL gets its act together. He had cited the accidents that were resulting in sections of the grid being shut down and had also claimed that GPL’s procurement system was at fault.
When it comes to procurement, Patterson had claimed that under his tenure, GPL procured supplies directly from the manufacturer. He had also claimed that GPL now uses middlemen who procure inferior products.