We are indeed pleased that the Government has commenced efforts to resume the Amaila Falls Hydro Power project as part of its energy mix to ensure that the nation is provided with clean, reliable and affordable electricity.
From the onset, it should be stated that Guyana would have been in a better position regarding an affordable, reliable supply of electricity if there had been bipartisan support for the Amaila Falls Hydro Power (AFHP) project, which was proposed by the PPP/C some years ago. In fact, had the Amaila project gone through, it would have been in the system since 2017, and, by now, the problem of constant blackouts would have been a thing of the past.
It could be recalled that the project was not given parliamentary support by the APNU and AFC parties, which had controlled the National Assembly by a one-seat majority at the time. Further, in spite of pleadings from the PPP/C to continue the conversation and ensure the project was restarted, when the APNU/AFC took office in 2015, it moved ahead and killed the project.
However, now that the PPP/C has been returned to Government, and has a Parliamentary majority, it is now certain that such a transformative project would get off the ground. Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo recently revealed: “We have started reviewing the documents etc, to chart a pathway to hydropower development back again, because hydropower is crucial, given our capability and capacity of the country; our abundant water resources.”
Amaila was expected to deliver a steady source of clean, renewable energy, and was envisioned to meet approximately 90 per cent of Guyana’s domestic energy needs while removing dependency on fossil fuels. The electric plant was proposed to be a 165 MW (installed capacity) hydropower-generation facility located in west-central Guyana, approximately 250 kilometres south-west of Georgetown.
In addition, it would have improved Guyana’s balance of payments by significantly reducing the importation of fuel, significantly reducing end-user costs for electricity, and improving reliability of energy supply and generation of clean energy – which would have helped to encourage economic growth and development by improving regional competitiveness, Private Sector investment, and Foreign Direct Investment.
An “objective and facts-based” assessment done by Norconsult, an engineering and design consultancy firm from Norway, had concluded and recommended that “the only realistic path” for Guyana moving towards an emission-free electricity sector and achieving its 2025 Green Agenda commitment was to develop its hydropower potential in general, and maintain the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project in particular.
In spite of assurances from the power company that blackouts would be a thing of the past, over the past couple of years, prolonged periods of blackout have actually increased across the country. Consumers have written several letters to this newspaper, expressing their disgust over the situation. The Government has now taken steps to ensure that citizens are provided with affordable and reliable electricity by its utilising an energy mix of wind, solar and hydro. It is also working seriously on an ambitious gas-to-shore energy project which would see an addition of between 200 and 250 megawatts of power being provided.
Guyana is currently generating electricity at approximately 17 to 20 US cents per kilowatt/hour. This is among the highest in the Region, and, on this basis, the Government has promised to reduce the cost of energy in the country by 50 per cent over the next five years.
As we had stated before, energy is one area in which there could be a bipartisan approach by politicians; meaning: the Opposition and the Government could work together towards finding a lasting solution to Guyana’s electricity problems.
Re-engaging Norway to restart the project is indeed a step in the right direction, considering that the country is still plagued with blackouts and high cost for electricity. Of importance, too, is that hydropower is an important part of Guyana’s energy mix in the future, since it is considered to be renewable and environmentally friendly.