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Ramotar lobbying Granger for Amaila hydro project support

President Donald Ramotar was Sunday engaged in last ditch efforts with Opposition Leader, David Granger to rescue the Amaila Falls Hydropower project, even though the United States-based investor, Sithe Global, has pulled out.

Granger could not be reached immediately for a comment because he was engaging in political fieldwork. However, Granger’s office said he would be holding a “special press conference” at noon on Monday.

The President, in a stirring appeal, called for an end to partisan political interests and instead put Guyana first.

“Early this morning, I spoke with the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Granger, and urged him once again to join me in showing support for the Amaila Falls project, for our country’s future development and for the life opportunities of generations of Guyanese. I will try to continue this engagement with Mr. Granger in the hours ahead, and I told him that my door remains open, as it always has been,” said Ramotar.

Sithe Global so far continues to maintain that it will go ahead with its US$150 million investment in the US$850 million hydropower plant only if all political parties in parliament support the project.

The Alliance For Change (AFC), with its seven seats added to the governing Peoples Progressive Party Civic’s (PPPC) 32, is not enough to persuade the New York-headquartered company. Sithe Global wants A Partnersnip for National Unity (APNU) to throw its 26 seats behind the investment. However, APNU does not believe that the project, as currently structured is good for Guyana because it is a risk investment.

The President released simplified details to show the merits of building the hydropower plant.

Following is the full text of President Ramotar’s statement.

All Guyanese will be aware of the latest negative developments concerning the Amaila Falls project, and the intention of Sithe Global – the project’s developer – to withdraw from the project, because of a lack of political support from all parties in the National Assembly.

Yet even at this late hour, there is a small window of time for our country’s leaders to rise to the occasion, and to make a decision on Amaila that is based on patriotism, not partisanship.

As President of this country, I will honour my duty to represent all Guyanese – and I will keep working to find a way forward as long as I believe that progress is still possible.

Early this morning, I spoke with the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Granger, and urged him once again to join me in showing support for the Amaila Falls project, for our country’s future development and for the life opportunities of generations of Guyanese. I will try to continue this engagement with Mr. Granger in the hours ahead, and I told him that my door remains open, as it always has been.

However, the debate about Amaila is not helped by the volume of uninformed speculation that has been visible in recent weeks, despite two opportunities to debate the project in Parliament, and the public availability of information over many months.  

Decisions on matters such as this – which are so important to our country’s future – should be based on facts, and not made as a result of speculation or political partisanship. All our political parties know that they have been equipped with the information they need to reach a decision on Amaila Falls.

The facts are clear:

Today, GPL incurs an electricity generating cost of US$19c per kw/h.  With Amaila Falls Hydro, GPL’s cost of electricity can be dramatically reduced, to:

·              11c per kw/h in the first twelve years, 40% less than today

·              5.6c per kw/h in the next eight years, 71% less than today

·              1.8 c per kw/h for the following eighty years, 91% less than today

As a result, the Amaila project can:

·         Reduce electricity bills for Guyanese consumers and businesses – average tariffs for consumers will come down by at least 20% within two years of commercial operation of the hydro

·         Eliminate the need for Guyanese taxpayers to subsidise GPL. In 2012, the subsidy cost taxpayers over 6 billion dollars. This will no longer be needed, and the money can be invested in other important national priorities, such as roads, schools and hospitals

·         Greatly reduce Guyana’s dependence on foreign oil, and insulate the economy from the risk of rising oil prices. Unlike oil, the price of Amaila’s electricity will go down over the next twenty years.

·         Reduce black-outs.  To avoid outages, the plant has:

–        Four individual units and full redundancy in the auxiliary systems

–        Two transmission lines, each capable of transmitting 100% of the plant’s output

·         Transform Guyana’s electricity sector from being fully oil-dependent to one built on clean, renewable energy. As the flagship of the Low Carbon Development Strategy, Amaila will enable reductions in Guyana’s greenhouse gases from electricity generation by approximately 90%

·         Support business growth in the processing and manufacturing industries, and create new jobs

·         Send a positive message to large global investors that Guyana is open for investment and set a new standard for the size of investment possible in Guyana

·         Be constructed without any debt being incurred by the citizens of Guyana. The plant will be fully paid for by the sale of electricity – at prices far cheaper than today

·         Be fully owned by the people of Guyana twenty years after operations begin

·         Last for at least a hundred years – providing affordable, reliable energy for generations to come

As has been made clear over the last week, one political party has not yet come out in support of our people gaining access to these benefits.

Yet in the coming hours and days, I hope that we will see a broadening spirit of patriotism and compassion for hardworking Guyanese.

If we see this spirit of patriotism and compassion emerge, I will do my utmost as President to get this project back on track in the hours ahead