Amaila Falls Hydropower Project
… mounts pressure for Govt to restart project
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday declared that the recently independent fact-based assessment on the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) vindicates the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C’s) stance and called on the coalition Government to apologise to Norway for misrepresenting the report.
He also urged all Guyanese to read the report for themselves and join with the PPP/C in putting pressure on the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration to quickly restart the project.
“We are confident that intelligent, independent-minded Guyanese will see that the assessment vindicates the project, and supports re-starting it immediately,” he expressed in a statement to the media on Thursday.
Before its release, Government claimed that the assessment of the Amaila Falls Project justified the APNU/AFC’s years of effort to destroy the Project.
However, the Opposition Leader contends that Government’s claim plunges new depths in its disregard for the truth.
This independent review of Amaila Falls – which came on the heels of calls from the Opposition Leader for such – was conducted by Norconsult; a reputable consultancy firm out of Norway, contracted by the Government of Norway.
In highlighting the truth about Amaila, Jagdeo outlined that the report hails Amaila as the only practical option for an emission free electricity sector.
The report states, “The only realistic path for Guyana towards an emission free electricity sector is by developing its hydropower potential. The fastest way forward is to maintain AFHP as the first major step for substituting its current oil fired generation. AFHP was prioritised as the first hydropower plant because it was the only project with a full feasibility study completed, it has a higher plant load factor than the alternatives, a smaller reservoir and a levelised unit cost in the same range as the most attractive alternatives.”
The report also proves that wind energy – at least in the capacity in which Government is currently pursuing – will not support Guyana’s commitment to reach 100 per cent renewable by 2025.
“As the power demand is growing, and for reaching the goal of 100 per cent emission free generation by 2025, as assumed by the [Low Carbon Development Strategy] LCDS, a second hydropower plant of capacity comparable with AFHP will have to be commissioned by 2025. In parallel with preparations for AFHP, therefore, prefeasibility studies will have to be carried out for promising candidates for the second hydropower project and a full feasibility study be performed for the selected candidate,” the report surmised.
The report also states “We regard the soundness of AFHP as evident and in order to follow up the intentions of the LCDS as fast as possible, we recommend the preparations for AFHP to be resumed.” However, Government has not given any indications or shown any interest in pursuing Amaila.
The report also states that “the BOOT type public-private partnership model should be maintained for the project implementation. An internationally well-merited investor and operator in the hydropower industry should be invited to take the majority position.”
Jagdeo pointed out that the report reaffirms that the BOOT type public-private partnership model – which the then APNU/AFC Opposition destroyed in August 2013 – is the right financial structure for AFHP.
“Up until yesterday (Wednesday), APNU/AFC, first in Opposition and then in Government, claimed that their concerns with the project related to the financing costs which are associated with this BOOT type of partnership. They made wild claims about the cost of the project and the resulting cost of electricity, and repeated the ridiculous claim that the project would saddle Guyanese with decades of debt. However, in yesterday’s (Wednesday) statement, they did not mention these concerns at all – because they have been thoroughly debunked by Norconsult,” Jagdeo asserted.
The report explained that constructing Amaila Falls would cut electricity costs by more than 50 per cent for the energy produced by AFHP, or US$3.3 billion over 20 years.
But Jagdeo noted that in its statement on the matter, APNU/AFC hid how they are no longer making claims about the financial model by instead claiming that there were mission-critical engineering issues to be solved.
“This is not true – the Norconsult report sets out some design areas for consideration as the project progresses, but also notes that these areas were already being looked at,” Jagdeo contended.
Norconsult clearly states “Although certain design aspects of AFHP should be reviewed and revised, we regard the soundness of AFHP as evident and in order to follow up the intentions of the LCDS as fast as possible, we recommend the preparation for AFHP be resumed.”
Jagdeo argued that instead of focusing on these engineering issues, APNU/AFC should have looked at areas where the project’s financing can be improved.
“The Norconsult assessment sets out several sensible recommendations which deserve further discussion and analysis. The PPP does not agree with all of these recommendations, but will support any efforts to get costs down further if possible,” the Opposition Leader said.
Nonetheless, to try and repair the damage, Norconsult sets out how AFHP can be operational in six and a half years’ time – mainly because the original tenders date from 2008 and now need to be re-tendered.
But Jagdeo said this is six years too late because AFHP should have been providing affordable, reliable, clean energy to Guyanese within the next few months.
“However, given that the wasted time cannot be re-gained, we must focus on the future,” he lamented.
The Opposition Leader expressed that the PPP/C wishes to see AFHP restart immediately, and is willing to engage in discussions on all the recommendations set out in the Norconsult assessment.
“With that in mind, the PPP calls on all Guyanese to join with us in ensuring that the APNU/AFC Government acts in the interest of the people of Guyana, apologises for their repeated lies about the project and instead works to make AFHP a success,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Second Vice President Carl Greenidge told media operatives on Thursday that the Government of Guyana never took a definitive decision on Amaila Falls. He noted too that the Norway report was yet to be submitted to Cabinet. He held out that the report vindicated APNU/AFC’s position that the AFHP was flawed. Greenidge said the report has suggestions for modifications and indicated that this was what the Government would most likely be willing to do.
“If you want to go forward on energy, you have to take account to what is being said in this report and see whether any reconfiguration can satisfy our means,” he said. (Devina Samaroo)