No sugarcoating “bad” situation, GPL’s performance “atrocious” – Jagdeo

…says old equipment, increased power demand among challenges

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo at his press conference on Thursday

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo is sympathising with Guyanese who are affected by frequent power outages, and has disclosed that Government is seeking to purchase an additional 40 to 80 megawatts of power for the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Inc, in order to offset increasing demands.
During his weekly press briefing at the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Freedom House Headquarters, Jagdeo said, “The situation is bad, there is no sugarcoating this.”
Acknowledging that explanations have been repeatedly provided to the affected citizens, he added: “We are not going to say people are not justified in the harsh comments they make, because we feel it ourselves. Because we live here and we are consumers too. It’s not that the Government is aloof from these concerns, (but) sometimes explanations don’t help at that moment.”

Guyana Power & Light Headquarters on Main Street, Georgetown

He pointed out that the current peak demand for electricity is at 180 megawatts, while the state-owned power company’s generating capacity is at 165 megawatts.
“Yes, the performance of GPL is atrocious in many cases, but also we are dealing with a real fact: growth demand and old equipment,” Jagdeo pointed out. In fact, the Vice President highlighted the increased usage of air conditioning units locally.
“What has happened is that the demand here has grown. Now, anyone here in Guyana would understand the growth in demand. You just look at the housing schemes: more houses, air-conditioned houses, more people are getting more money and they’re putting in AC. You have a number of businesses opening up, oil and gas projects, hotels, etc., and they are utilising significantly more power. So, our demand has grown, but we are still limping along with (some) old equipment,” he explained.
To address the issue in the short term, VP Jagdeo said, efforts are underway to purchase 40 to 80 megawatts of power for a period of two years, until the Gas-to-Energy project comes on stream. In the meantime, he noted, solar panels are also being used in the hinterland and other areas to increase the generation of electricity in those areas.
The PPP/C Government’s model Gas-to-Energy project includes a 300-megawatt power plant using natural gas that would be piped from the oil-rich Stabroek Block’s Liza field, offshore Guyana, to an integrated gas processing facility at Wales on the West Bank of Demerara. The project is set to come on stream next year.
Guyana has endured a spate of blackouts over the past week following what the GPL has described as engine failures at different locations. At least two engines are currently down.
With its current challenges, GPL is now generating some 165 megawatts.
Back in December, 17 containerised electricity generators were purchased to the tune of US$27 million to enhance power generation during the Christmas holiday. Procured from Apan Energy Service, these sets were expected to contribute an additional 28.9 megawatts to the national grid, but there have been shipment delays and technical issues in setting them up, and it has been reported that only nine of these gen sets have been installed.
Chief Executive Officer of GPL, Kesh Nandlall, disclosed to Guyana Times on Wednesday evening that five of the eight remaining sets will be installed by this weekend, and the remaining three will be connected next week. According to Nandlall, when these eight generators are connected, another 10 megawatts would be added to the national grid.
Meanwhile, President Dr Irfaan Ali told reporters on Wednesday morning that the issues affecting GPL’s operations are multifaceted and interconnected. These issues range from aged infrastructure and systems to lack of maintenance, to human resource gap, and to the growing demand for electricity coupled with public destruction of the entity’s transmission utilities.
“Immediately, we have to address the existing system and to invest in strengthening the existing system. Then, in the immediate medium-term, we have to look at the distribution and transmission system. Immediately, we have to look at the demand and bringing in that bridging power to help us through this period. So, those are the immediate steps, and, of course, the technical capacity and support,” the President explained.
That support, according to the president, could be imported. He explained that there is a human resource gap at GPL which the entity has been unable to fill.
“We have to get more engineers, more technicians and more linesmen urgently, because of the demand in the system. Because of the use of the system and the expansion of the system, there will be tremendous technical support that will come. Right now, as I speak to you, I’ve expressed my disappointment (at GPL’s operations, but) the system needs technical people. There are a number of vacancies. They’ve been trying to recruit, but they’re not getting the people. So, they’re (going) out once more, and if they don’t get, then we’ll have to bring in that technical support,” the Guyanese Leader noted.
The Head of State said Dominican Republic-based energy company InterEnergy Group (IEG) is one of the partners that the Guyana Government would be working with. Moreover, the Guyana Government has approached the United Kingdom Export Finance (UKEF) for financing to upgrade the aged transmission system and distribution network. According to Ali, this could be a “sizeable” amount, given the need of the power company. (G8)