GPL ready for Amaila Falls hydro power
Three years after being launched, a key US$42M new transmission line project along with seven new sub-stations, has been completed. Government yesterday announced that the coast now has the infrastructure in place to take power from the Amaila Falls hydro-power facility when it comes on stream.
Already, the Infrastructure Development Project, launched in 2011, has managed to bring down losses for the first half of the year, officials said yesterday at the commissioning at the Mandela Avenue sub-station.
The Infrastructure Development Project (IDP) is part of a long term programme to make the state-owned company, facing increasing demands and with an aging infrastructure, more efficient.
Experts had warned GPL to change the transmission lines if it intends to take power from the hydro facility. That project is on a hold because of financing and after the Opposition-controlled Parliament last year voted against key legislation.
According to Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL), Bharat Dindyal, the project would represent a major investment from what took place since in the 70’s in terms of transmission.
The project had been awarded to China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC) for the seven sub-stations at Vreed-en-Hoop and Edinburgh, West Demerara; Golden Grove on the East Bank of Demerara; North Ruimveldt and Sophia in Georgetown; and Good Hope and Columbia, on the East Coast of Demerara.
According to GPL officials, in essence, the project has linked Berbice to Demerara in a network that
would enable engineers to pinpoint faults much faster. A brand new control centre will be able to efficiently manage power in the different districts. A submarine cable linking the city to West Demerara was also laid across the Demerara River, helping to stabilize power to that area.
A part of the project, said Dindyal, included training for staffers for GPL to handle the modern technology that came with it.
GPL’s Chairman, Winston Brassington, said that the project commissioning would mean the culmination of five years of work, and the completion of a pre-requisite for the multi-billion Amaila Falls hydro power project that Government remains committed to build.
The new transmission lines, about 110 kilometers long, with the other facilities, would also mean improvement to voltage stabilization, a major challenge before for GPL.
Between 2006 and 2014, some US$150M was invested in GPL which saw power generation and capacity of Wartsila engines moving from 44 megawatts to now over 106 megawatts, the official disclosed.
Brassington also pointed to another major project approved earlier this year, and financed by the European Union and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for US$65M, which will target increasing GPL’s management capacity and reducing losses.
He admitted that GPL needs to do much better to reduce outages but noted that the challenges have been increasing.
As a matter of fact, the number of customers from 2005 moved from 127,000 to now 175,000.
But things have improved with regards to GPL’s highly controversial losses.
Both technical (line and transformers) and non-technical (theft) in 2003 were around 44 percent of what GPL was producing. It is just below 30 percent now, with indications that it is reducing.
Revenues have also jumped from $12B in 2003 to $30B in 2013 with fuel accounting for the biggest expense with $23B spent last year.
Prime Minister, Sam Hinds, who has the portfolio for the energy sector, noted that the commissioning of the IDP initiative meant an historic day for electricity in Guyana, with the country moving from an outdated system struggling to cope to a modern one.
However, Hinds remained critical of continuing outages and the attitude of some staffers and contractors. He denied that Guyana’s tariffs are outrageous and urged for GPL to bring down losses to around eight percent- the levels of Barbados.
Hinds admitted that while GPL is not where Government and the people want it to be, it would take enormous spending to make it on par with other Caribbean territories.
In fact, it may mean almost double the number of transformers in place and even smart meters to help reduce theft.
He was “totally embarrassed” with the level of theft by some consumers especially in the southern and western parts of the city.
Hinds also criticized recent statements of Opposition Member of Parliament, Joseph Harmon, who had slammed the seemingly high tariffs of GPL. Rather, Harmon should concentrate in helping to reduce theft in these critical areas, Hinds said.
The US$42M Chinese-funded project was one of the most significant in terms of investments in recent times for the country’s electricity system, officials say.
GPL had long said that losses could be reduced significantly if there is a total revamp of transmission and distribution system.
The project also included the construction of 26 new 13.8kv distribution outlets, which would have addressed the age-old problem of circuits being overloaded.
Part of the transmission line included a fibre optic cable to link the sub-stations and a sophisticated SCADA (Supervisory, Control and Data Acquisition) system to facilitate the monitoring, control and protection of the entire system.
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