Why kill the Amaila project?

The issue regarding the constant power outages across Guyana and their huge negative impact on both individuals and businesses is once again dominating the headlines. In spite of assurances from the power company’s new Chief Executive Officer that blackouts would be a thing of the past, over the past couple of days, prolonged periods of blackout have actually increased across the country.
Consumers have written several letters to this newspaper, expressing their disgust over the present situation; it’s as if they have reached breaking point. At the moment, the problem seems insurmountable for the Government to deal with, and it looks as if Guyanese will have to wait much longer before they could benefit from reliable electricity supply.
So far, we have seen the politicians blaming each other for the present crisis.
As expected, no government would take responsibility for the current mess we are in. The reality is that Guyana is on the cusp of becoming an oil producing country, and certainly something must be done urgently to fix the problem once and for all. Investors, manufacturers and others would not be attracted to come here and do business if the present situation as it relates to electricity supply continues.
It is clear that both businesses and private individuals are dissatisfied with the service being provided by the power company, especially since the cost they are paying for such service has not decreased; in fact, it has increased over the past few years, even though Government has been saving millions of dollars due to declining oil prices on the world market.
It would serve the APNU/AFC Government no good if it continues to cast blame on the previous government for the present power woes; in fact, citizens are looking to them (present Government), as they are in power, to come up with solutions to the problem.
Currently, it is still not clear as to what steps are being taken to bring a lasting solution to the power woes the country has been experiencing; in fact, Government officials have been giving one excuse after the other, which does not help in any way. Some experts believe that there is a manifest lack of short- and long-term solutions to address the company’s inefficiency.
We had stated before that Guyana could have been in a better position regarding an affordable, reliable supply of electricity if there were bipartisan support for the Amaila Falls Hydro Power (AFHP) project, which would have been in the system from 2017. However, the project was scrapped by the APNU/AFC parties, who had controlled the National Assembly by a one-seat majority at the time.
The Amaila project was seen by many experts as far more stable and reliable than any of the renewable energy projects being pursued by this present Government. 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 165MW (installed capacity) hydropower generation facility located in west-central Guyana, approximately 250 kilometres southwest of Georgetown.
In addition, it would have improved Guyana’s balance of payments’ position 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 help to encourage economic growth and development by improving regional competitiveness, Private Sector investment, and Foreign Direct Investment.
An “objective and fact-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.
It is very unfortunate that the entire populace now has to suffer because political interest was placed above national interest. Perhaps this is one area in which the Government could adopt a bipartisan approach; meaning, seeking the involvement of the Opposition towards finding a lasting solution to Guyana’s electricity problems. It is still not too late to give serious consideration to the Amaila project.