Five months after the submarine power cable across the Demerara River went down, the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) yesterday said that repairs have been completed.
“The remedial works on the damaged submarine cable which linked the company’s Power Plant at Vreed-en-Hoop into the Demerara Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS) was successfully completed and energized on December 8, 2016. The restoration of this cable has improved the company’s available capacity by eighteen (18) megawatts within the DBIS. This is sufficient capacity to meet the peak demand during the Christmas season and into 2017,” the state-owned power company said yesterday.
The downed cable had left the Demerara and Berbice power supplies on the edge, with a number of shutdowns experienced during the last five months.
GPL was forced to rehire CMC, the contractor which had laid the cable, to do the repairs. More than $120M was said to have been spent.
The parts of the cable had to be brought in from China, delaying repair works since it went down, presumably for a vessel, back in July. The cable had to be reinforced also and laid deeper, which entailed dredging across the river.
The cable was part of bigger project that included the construction of seven sub-stations and new high-power transmission lines along the coastland. Two submarine cables – one across the Berbice River and the other in the Demerara River – created an interlinked system in the two counties.
However, the damage to the cable had raised serious questions about CMC’s work.
In fact, the supervisor of the works, ýCaribbean Engineering and Management Consultants Inc. (CEMCO) had blasted the poor laying of the cable and warned that GPL would face trouble over it.
One set of the transmission lines, between Kingston and the Sophia sub-station, is also facing problems, causing shutdowns of the inter-connected Berbice and Demerara system.
GPL was forced, a few weeks back, to shut down parts of the coastland to conduct a diagnostic test of the line between the two sub-stations to determine the problem.
However, on Tuesday, the system again experienced a total shutdown at 20:41 hrs following a trip on the transmission line spanning from Kingston to Sophia, which GPL said yesterday was a result of a burst 13.8kv primary conductor on Stone Avenue, Campbellville that came into contact with another energized primary circuit.
“Repowering efforts commenced at 20:52 hrs within Kingston and Cummingsburg areas. Restoration of service continued into all other areas within the DBIS, with the last community being repowered at 22:58 hrs. Regrettably some customers within Demerara remained without power until 23:55 hrs, as our technicians worked assiduously to stabilize the grid before continuing restoration attempts.”
Yesterday morning also, around 01:08 hrs, customers in Kitty, Campbellville, Homestretch Avenue, Sophia, West, East and North La Penitence and Werk-en-Rust experienced an interruption in the supply of electricity due to a “localized fault” which was subsequently corrected and power restored at 01:43 hrs, GPL said.
GPL’s performance has been angering consumers in recent months and now that Government is moving to charge 14 percent VAT on all monthly bills, the power company is under pressure to improve its dismal performance.
About a third of its power is lost to theft and technical losses.
A major project to introduce more than 25,000 smart meters and run new low and medium voltage distribution lines along the coastland has run into trouble, with an evaluation taking an extraordinary nine months.
It appears that Government has approved CMC, the same Chinese company which laid the troubled submarine cable, for the US$18M project.
However, although Government has not officially announced the award of the contract, it has a dilemma of sorts as other bidders are complaining of irregularities in the evaluation process and are preparing to file protests with the Public Procurement Commission (regulator), the Inter-American Development Bank and the European Union.
The last two are where the monies are coming from.
GPL and Government have been largely silent on the project which had generated significant attention. GPL falls under the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.
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