The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has rolled out its energy plan which includes not only a significant reduction in costs, but some 400 megawatt (MW) capacity – which is more than double the less than 200 MW that is currently being generated.
This was revealed by the Party’s General Secretary and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, on Thursday at his weekly press conference.
His comments come as the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) continues to grapple with the provision of reliable energy due to the shortfall of its capacity. In fact, only last week the power company complained of a generation shortfall at the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS) as a result of unforeseen occurrences and generation/operational issues.
Days later, it announced that GPL was proceeding with a power purchase deal with Giftland Mall for the provision of some five megawatts of power to feed into the national grid. But the power company subsequently disclosed that it is unable to purchase power from any private company because of its existing licence and the country’s laws.
While Government has been talking about amending the laws to pave way for buying electricity from private companies, Jagdeo said this situation is as a result of the coalition Government’s lack of vision for the sector.
“If you talk to them, they’re clueless… The ability to conceptualise or implement things is missing from this government,” he contended.
The Opposition Leader went on to blast the coalition for scrapping the Amaila Falls Hydro Project (AFHP), which he noted would have brought in some 160 megawatts of renewable power into the national grid by mid-2017.
“They killed that and they said they’re going to do solar, wind… [But] so far, they’ve done very little in bringing in new capacity,” he noted.
The AFHP, which was initiated under the PPP Administration, was continually blocked by the then APNU and AFC combined Opposition while controlling the National Assembly by a one-seat majority.
The AFHP would have assisted GPL to get adequate electricity supply, thus, providing cheaper and more reliable power to citizens and businesses. But the Norway-funded project was scrapped and Government has diverted its US$80 million funding, which Guyana has earned for sustaining its rainforests to absorb global carbon emissions, to a 100 megawatt solar energy project.
However, Jagdeo, a former President, said that if the PPP returns to office at the upcoming elections, then resuscitation of the Amaila Falls Project would be among its top priorities for the energy sector.
“Our plan is resuming discussions on Amaila. Immediately, starting to move forward on that project but recognising that that project will take some time into the future because it will take about four to five years to be completed. You can wait on that to bring in power now – base load,” he acknowledged.
To this end, the General Secretary said that the PPP administration will move on to a gas power plant, which it believes could be done easily. However, while will be bring another 20 megawatt into the system, he stressed that it will not come into fruition until maybe 2021. As such, they will have to rely on fossil fuel initially to stabilise power supply in the country and bring an end to the constant blackouts.
“So immediately, we move to fossil fuel and then the medium term – well by 2021 – to get to the gas fire power plant and then the hydro in about four years. That should put over 400 megawatts of new power [into the grid]. Right now, we generating under 200 megawatts, so that [400 megawatts] will allow us to do street lights, it will allow us to reduce the cost of electricity significantly and it will allow us to do a number of other things both for household and [commercial purposes],” he stated.
Parallel to this, Jagdeo added, the PPP plans to improve transmission as well as the isolated grids, which will have either wind power or solar.
Another project he said his party will resume is the residential solar panel project for hinterland communities. He noted that the current project that Government is rolling out giving hinterland communities internet is being funded with US$17 million that the PPP has left in place for ICT development in the Hinterland. That money was also from the Norwegian Fund.
“But now they’re doing it with the money and calling it their own,” he posited.
The Opposition Leader disclosed that under the previous PPP administration, 100 of the 215 hinterland communities had already been identified and major areas were wired for the establishment of commercial solar panels. In fact, he noted that they had even started the procurement of the solar panels when government changed in 2015.
Nevertheless, he said the PPP will resume this initiative.
“So we have a combination, a suite of measures that will deal with the power situation. Everything is planned already,” he declared.