5,658 illegal connections removed, 420 persons charged last year
- 35,000 new customers added to GPL grid over eight year period
By Rabindra Rooplall
For last year Guyana Power & Light (GPL) statistics reveal that 14,755 meters were investigated while 5,658 illegal connections were removed in the process of 162 raids.
Statistics further indicated that the power company also discovered 558 tampered meters and by-passes; however, 4,504 were replaced in addition to the identification of over 6,000 illegal street lights.
This resulted in 420 persons being arrested and charged.
The billing statistics indicate that, just over 68,000 consumers use up to 75kWh per month, confirm that theft of electricity is not only a problem in un-served and recently served areas but chronic among other consumers. However, GPL has introduced the split-meter pre-paid technology and its eventual universal application for single phase services. The fraud proofing of the distribution network and the use of co-axial cables for distribution in special cases should comprehensively address this problem.
It was further noted that since 2004 GPL has added over 35,000 new customers with approximately half of these from the Unserved Areas Electrification Program (UAEP.) However, 2011 saw the largest level of increase in customers; double that of the previous year which accounted for 4,253 customers.
In 2012, GPL is budgeting that over 74 % of its power will come from Wartsila units operated by Wartsila and 7% from Guysuco; this will reduce the need for GPL to operate many of its diesel units except for back-up and also to minimize rentals.
Records reveal that 22 percent of the company’s losses are non-technical in nature and are largely as a result of electricity theft, faulty meters and deficiencies in the billing system.
Approximately 30 per cent of the population is illegally connected and this has caused GPL commercial losses estimated at $2 billion annually.
The reduction of losses, technical and non-technical, continues to be one of the key challenges facing the GPL despite continued reduction in non-technical losses.
By the end of 2011 total losses was projected to be 30.3% of dispatched power. The strategies which will be employed in the Loss Reduction programme are expected to reduce losses to at least 24.15% by the end of 2016.
It has been confirmed that the single most effective strategy to reduce non-technical losses is ensuring that there is adequate, secure metering. The ITRON programme which is intended to include all installation where the consumption is 12,000 units and above annually, has achieved 2,176 installations by September 2011, accounting for 49.5% of sales.
For other consumers, the company will continue to depend primarily on pre-paid meters (split meter), which will deliver the double benefit of reducing losses while at the same time improving customer service. It should be noted that the pre-paid meter is essentially marketing itself and over 12,000 are expected to be in service at the end of 2011.