Jan 29, 2016 News
– US$50M wind-farm deal a major priority
By Leonard Gildarie
A new Board of Directors for the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) is now in place, but it will be anything but a smooth ride for its members.
Chairing the 10-person board will be hotelier Robert Badal. It will for the first time
in a while, include women – there are four of them.
With over 170,000 customers scattered on the coasts, there has been growing pressure for the entity to up its game. Among the Board’s first set of tasks will be looking into a report detailing an investigation that the current Chief Executive Officer (ag), Colin Welch, last year allegedly attempted to tamper with a multi-million-dollar contract for prepaid meters.
Government had declined to remove Welch for an investigation and had promised for a new board to be appointed to look into the matter as well as other allegations that Welch’s qualifications were not authentic.
The new board will also be looking to a possible deal with Guyana Windfarm Inc., a company that is planning to sink over US$50M into a 26-megawatts project at Hope Beach, East Coast Demerara.
Speaking during the introduction of the new board members yesterday at his Kingston office, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, noted that there is tremendous responsibilities resting on their shoulders.
Absent yesterday was Chairman Badal, and Leslie Ramalho, an executive of the fishing industry.
The Board will have to look at ways to improve customer services, in light of the many complaints against the entity.
“The first initiative to be addressed is the provision of better services to the consumers…secondly you’re tasked with ensuring there is a transition from our current 100% reliance on petroleum-based generation to allow access to alternative energies within the system,” Minister Patterson explained.
The service provided to consumers is not only limited to less power outages, but also a better customer service experience when interfacing with GPL’s staff.
It will also have to plan ahead, preparing GPL to move towards renewable energy, and reducing its dependence on imported fuel.
With regards to the wind-farm project, Patterson explained that GPL will have to iron out a power purchase agreement and work out the technical details that will see the 26-megawatts being accommodated in the interconnected system of that state-owned company, and in accordance with the regulatory framework. When it comes on stream, the wind-farm will be about 15 percent of the country’s current power and will be from renewable energy.
The wind-farm project is being spearheaded by local businessman, Lloyd Singh.
The board will also have to address a major problem facing GPL- that of bringing down its technical and commercial losses from the current 28 percent.
GPL has several transformers and other equipment that have been leaking power produced. A significant amount of theft from consumers also has added up to that 28 percent.
According to Patterson, he has already written the new Chairman, advising on a number of issues, including administrative ones, that the board will have to address.
He admitted that the allegations against Welch will be one of them.
As a matter of fact, Patterson disclosed that it will be the task of the board to find a CEO and fill several vacancies that exist for senior officials in the company.
Also present yesterday was Minister within the Ministry, Annette Ferguson, who urged the new board members to seek new ideas and find solutions for the customers who will be demanding better service.
Questioned, Minister Patterson said that invitations had been sent out to the Opposition to submit a name to be on the board. However, there has not been any response on this and several other boards that Government has been appointing in recent months.
The members of the board are Robert Badal – Chairman; Denise Simmonds; Leslie Ramalho; Abiola Wong-Inniss; Morsha Johnson-Francis; Tara Singh; Chief Executive Office of Guyana Energy Inc. and representatives from the Guyana Public Service Union, the Private Sector and possibly the Parliamentary Opposition.
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