The Prime Minister, Mark Phillips and Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, were today briefed by the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) on the major issues affecting the company and plans to tackle these over the short, medium and long term.
The meeting was held at the power company’s Executive Secretariat at Duke Street, Kingston, Georgetown.
During the meeting, Minister Indar pointed out that the goal is to reduce blackouts countrywide, and to effectively address the structural and capacity issues affecting the company.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of GPL, Albert Gordon highlighted that the vision is for GPL to become a world-class utility to assist in transforming the country to a first world level.
Gordon said that progress has been made towards this end, however, significant infrastructural issues remain to be resolve. For example, total system shutdowns have decreased significantly over the last three years. In the years 2017, 2018 and 2019, total system shutdowns were 25, 12 and 6, respectively.
For the year 2020, so far, three have been experienced and these were due to a contractor making contact with the critical L5 transmission line on February 25, unusual stormy weather on July 8, and, most recently, a fault on the submarine cable on August 16.
To achieve a reliable supply of electricity, Gordon first pointed to some of the constraints GPL is faced with.
“We have challenges at all levels of the supply chain from fuel supply to power delivery to consumers. There is inadequate capacity and lack of redundancy in the various systems and these are to be addressed by the various projects going forward. We do not have adequate fuel storage capacity and this makes it difficult for us to minimize the cost of fuel by way of the procurement process. We have a total of 110,000 barrels of storage presently at the various stations. An additional two million gallons are being constructed at Garden of Eden as part of the new project and 1 million gallons are to be constructed at Kingston,” he explained.
Furthermore, it was explained that although 150 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity is installed, only 120 MW is considered reasonably reliably baseload capacity. The remainder is mainly small, old unreliable plants, some of which were brought back from retirement by the GPL engineering staff.
Given that the peak demand to date is 124.6 MW and the demand is expected to grow at a more rapid pace over the next two years, the situation will get worse. The demand decreased somewhat due to the effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic, however, it is beginning to pick up, with the increased economic activity. Just yesterday, the peak was 117MW the team was told.
In another two days, an additional 12 MW will be added to the grid since the generator will be fixed. The technical staff at GPL explained that they expect the peak demand to increase to over 135 MW by October of this year, taking several factors into account.
Moving forward, GPL outlined plans for improvement in generation, transmission, and distribution systems across its operating areas, even as it expands service to unserved areas. These are included in its Development and Expansion Plan and include the construction of new dual fuel power stations, commencing with 46.5 MW plant at Garden of Eden, which is due for completion in April 2021.
Meanwhile, activities are underway to spearhead development of gas to power and hydro power facilities to begin to take advantage of Guyana’s vast resources.
Prime Minister Phillips committed to supporting the plans of GPL and noted that funding will soon be made available to the agency. He was keen to note that the former APNU/AFC Administration neglected GPL and failed to invest into the power company although it is in urgent need of generators.
On the other hand, Minister Indar noted that only three Caterpillar sets were purchased over the last five years to the tune of approximately US$1 million.
As a consequence, the Minister said that the demand for electricity is equal to the output and in the event of a generator failure, hundreds of families suffer from blackouts.