Nov 01, 2008 News
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), Winston Brassington, is confident that a dark Christmas has been averted, given that the power company has managed to overcome the recent hurdles plaguing the company.
According to Brassington, the Demerara national grid will be generating some 77 megawatts (MW) of electricity when the Christmas demand is slated for 70MW or just above.
“In the short term, the generation situation is improving, but we still face risks. However, based on the current improvement, GPL does not expect any planned outages for Christmas…
“Unplanned outages may occur, however, when units break down or when there are transmission trips,” said Brassington.
The Chairman said that currently the generation capacity for companies on the Demerara grid is 67 megawatts, and the demand for electricity is fluctuating at the generation peak.
In order to facilitate this, Brassington said, the 5.5 megawatt Wartsila Unit has been overhauled.
He added that by next week the 2.2 megawatt EMD Versailles unit will be up and running; by November 10 the 2.5 megawatt unit at Garden of Eden will be available and three 1.6 megawatt Caterpillar units will be rented from MACORP at a cost of US$55,000 per month.
The money will be paid from funds that were remaining from the more than $3B that was approved by the National Assembly earlier this year.
He added also that in February next year the five megawatt Niigata unit at Garden of Eden is also expected to be back in service.
In Berbice, where electricity problems plagued the county especially in recent weeks, Brassington said that there is now a total of 15.5 megawatts available, including three generation units in Skeldon.
He noted that the situation in Berbice has improved from a previous availability of seven megawatts earlier this month. Peak in Berbice is usually 14.5 megawatts.
Brassington said that the five- megawatt unit at Skeldon has been repaired and both 2.2 megawatt units at Onverwagt have been fixed.
The five-megawatt unit at Canefield will have its engine block replaced by November 10, according to Brassington.
The factors contributing to the overall problems at the GPL have been blamed for the recent problems, including the increasing customer demand and the breakdown of aged units.
He noted that the problems were complicated with the fact that six major Wartsilla units had to be overhauled during the year, as well as the intermittent problems with the availability of the GuySuCo Skeldon sets.
Prime Minister Sam Hinds, who was also present at the press briefing, said that he did not believe that consumers could see a drop in electricity rates despite the significant decrease in fuel prices on the world market, which are down from a high of US$147 per barrel to below US$65 per barrel.
He posited that if the price were to fall below US$50 per barrel and remain below that mark, then a decrease would be possible.
This is in light of the fact that the company is currently operating at just about break even when one considers its revenue against the total cost of operations.
Earlier in the year, the total cost of operations far outweighed the revenue, which prompted the Government to inject the more than $3B into the company. Another factor compounding the situation is the fact that the company is faced with 33 per cent technical and commercial losses.
This is a minimal reduction, as reported earlier, and the fact that the company has been more or less strapped for cash is the reason behind the very minimal decrease of about three per cent, given that the company had to almost cease investment in reducing the losses.
Two weeks ago, blackouts around the country appeared to be imminent for the rest of the year as GPL had been reaching its capacity even as the Christmas season approaches.
Chief Executive Officer of the company, Bharat Dindyal, had said that demand for electricity had reached the peak that is usually experienced during the Christmas season.
According to Brassington, until the three capital projects announced in May this year come on stream, at a cost over US$30 M, reliable generation capacity will be tight.
Additionally, GPL expects to invest US$40 M (via a Chinese loan secured by President Bharrat Jagdeo) over the next three years to rebuild its transmission system.
Between 2008 and 2011, more that US$70 M will be invested directly into GPL by the Government, with a view to improving generation and transmission.
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