Jul 21, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – On Sunday last, large patches of Georgetown was visited by the sound of generators going full blast, where those were available. This was because there was a blackout that lasted for most of the morning and kept going way into the afternoon. It helped that there was considerable sunshine, which gave some relief to those who have the luxury of solar power. How other residents managed is a matter of guesswork, but it couldn’t have been pleasantly, with fridges possibly loaded from weekend stock-ups out of action, microwaves gone dead, and fans all stopped and silent. The basics of modern life missing due to the blackout, and sapping the spirit, if not life, out of longsuffering citizens existing under a blanket of blackouts for ages now.
Though it is almost the repetition of a cliché, it is worth saying again: Guyanese can use some cheap, reliable electricity for a change, if only to give them a little peace of mind, and empower them to get on with the many other hard demands of local life. After billions have been spent, almost as many promises from leaders, changes in government, and changes in management at the nation’s electricity company, we are in the same place, as we have always been – blackouts and more blackouts in many parts of the country. Some areas are more blackout prone than some but, overall, the electricity picture is pretty grim.
The Guyana Power and Light (GPL), as it stands, is not the answer to our electricity woes. Projects hailed as the solutions may be the answers urgently needed, but there is great uncertainty as to whether leaders in the present PPP/C Government are telling Guyanese the full story, and an accurate one. Gas-to-energy and the Amaila Falls Hydro Project have been held out as the remedies to our woes. We have heard about cheaper and cleaner than what we have now, but that has been greeted with much skepticism because so much is still unknown about both projects. The reaction of citizens is a direct byproduct of leaders who have made a living by lying to them, either through commission or omission. When pressed for answers with what they present, they clam up and close up shop, leaving citizens hanging.
Meanwhile, the blackouts roll on, and Guyanese swelter or curse over their spoilage and losses, and the general quality of their lives. Guyana’s Vice President and his energy team have been talking up the benefits of planned energy projects, but whenever he puts these kinds of things on the table, citizens get the impression that he is selling them a pig in a bag. In other words, he pushes the positives, while keeping the negatives to himself, that is, if he himself has the most complete grasp of all the components of these U.S. billion-dollar projects.
We know how much we need currently, and how much we will demand in the next few years, with due consideration given to national economic development and expansion. It would help to know what the true cost is end-to-end of energy projects being sold and the maximum output of electricity, as well as what our visions and plans are for any excess electricity or energy produced. Trinidad has a huge demand for electricity, and could serve as a potential market for any spare capacity in our inventory.
How would we get such to them? What would it cost us to do so? Would such costs still keep any possible supply to Trinidad within an acceptable price range? Meaning that the final cost would still make sense for our CARICOM neighbours and partners to benefit from what we sell them. And, at the same time, we also make some money from what is transported to the Trinis.
If we have excess and have no market for it, then that becomes a worrying and burdening proposition, a wasteful one. Certainly, the nice sounds coming out of leaders about energy make for good listening. But we have to be careful that what starts out as a hymn does not transform into a funeral song, another mournful one. We all want cheap, reliable electricity, but only if we get all the pieces right.
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