Dec 12, 2021 News
– as CEO hints at more loans, foreign partners
Kaieteur News – The ‘cash-strapped’ Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL) will have to, in the coming years, find some US$1.3B in order to substantially upgrade its Transmission and Distribution (T&D) network.
This is in order to efficiently take off and distribute to consumers electricity to be generated from the proposed Gas-to-Shore Energy Project, estimated to cost in excess of US$1B as well as the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project (AFHEP), pegged at some US$1.2B in its previous incarnation.
The disclosure was made this past week by GPL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bharrat Dindyal, who was at the time providing members of the local media corps with update on the utility company’s preparedness for the Christmas Holidays in addition to some future plans.
Government has since retained the controversial Chinese contractor, China Railway First Group (CRFG)—the company that had previously signed a contract to build the said project several years ago and to be paid for by power purchased from the project to build the 165 megawatt (MW) plants.
Works are also currently underway to bring to fruition a Natural Gas fired Electricity Generation Plant with an additional 250 MW to further supplement the existing 186MW GPL generating capacity.
According to Dindyal, the projected energy demands for the country is expected to triple in the coming years. He pointed to the expansion of housing schemes by the Housing Ministry’s Central Housing and Planning Authority as among the contributing factors.
“Of course electricity is an important part of the infrastructure needed within those communities, so we work with those developers whoever they are,” he said.
Asked to expand specifically on the company’s planned development and expansion programme, he quipped that this was an issue he had wished to have a separate engagement with the media.
He nonetheless disclosed that its programme schedule for 2022 to 2027 by firstly indicating “you would expect that with the Oil and Gas business and how it’s developing in Guyana there is going to be rapid development in the country.”
As such, he said “there is envisaged to be massive expansion of housing, high income, middle income, and of course low income houses.”
This, in addition to an expansion of commercial and manufacturing activity domestically and as such, by 2027 the company is anticipating a tripling of power demand.
“As you know there are significant plans to address that (demand),” said Dindyal and reminded, “we have heard about the 300MW gas to power plant, we know that a contractor has been identified for the AFHEP 165MW,” in addition to GPL’s own plans to install additional generation from solar farms.
To this end, he was adamant “there is going to be massive expansion in the transmission and distribution system, automation , new control centres, a vast number of new substations, so there is going to be massive investments as we see it, designed to serve the projected load—this tripling of demand.”
Asked specifically about the cost and source of funding for the touted “massive investments,” Dindyal told media operatives “that’s going to be a combination of sources. GPL’s internal sources (and) foreign direct investment, of course, a lot of it is going to be funded by loans.”
According to the GPL CEO, the total cost is expected at about US$1.3B. The power company, as indicated by Dindyal, is operating at a $2.6B deficit and is in fact currently surviving on loans to meet its obligations.
At present the utility company’s Transmission and Distribution (T&D) system is, as described by its own officials, as fragile and experiencing some 26 percent in technical and commercial losses—line losses and electricity theft, among other means.
Speaking to the fragility of the system during that press engagement, it was noted that while the company will have sufficient generation capacity in its system, it is unable to give a guarantee that there would be no power outages—blackouts—for the 2021 Christmas holiday season.
This is since the Demerara Berbice Interconnected System (BDIS), which is the country’s primary transmission and distribution network for power put into the grid, is in a fragile state, leading to power outages for reasons ranging from heavy winds to an errant driver.
The sentiments were expressed by Dindyal and GPL’s Divisional Director of Operations, Bharat Harjohn.
The GPL CEO did, nonetheless, laud the improvements to the system; as a result of investments there has been some improvement in the network over the previous year when he arrived at the entity.
He identified specifically, the “behaviour and performance of the network,” saying “I think we have improved on the performance in the network.” Dindyal was quick to point out, however, that there is still more work to be done with regard to the network.
Speaking to some of the investments made in the network over the past year, Dindyal said, “we had to essentially reorder the system,” in order to accommodate some of the technical components installed.
Speaking to some of the problems that GPL and its team would have to encounter, Dindyal pointed out that in excess of 40 MW of generating power is sited at a location that is not secure.
He was at the time referencing the Garden of Eden, East Bank Demerara power generating units, which he said can be seen, always, as a potential stabiliser in the network or equally, a potential source of trouble.
The GPL CEO also conceded that Guyana has what is described as an inertia system, meaning it is unable to withstand “heavy shocks.”
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