Last Updated on Saturday, 30 September 2023, 6:23 by Denis Chabrol
Vice President Bharat Jagdeo on Friday announced that large electricity consumers would be taxed to force them off the Guyana Power and Light’s (GPL) grid, even as the power company blamed the intensely hot weather in recent weeks for unprecedented increased electricity consumption in the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS).
“We just agreed on a policy that we’d put for the peak hours a punitive tax for those big users who come on to the grid because it is at the peak period where demand is greater than the supply,” he said at the opening of the West Central Mall at Leonora, West Coast Demerara on Friday.
Mr Jagdeo explained that electricity usage was over-peaking because large electricity consumers were reconnecting to the national grid because government was now subsidising electricity charges due to the increase in world oil prices. “A lot of the big users now, who were self-generating, have come on the grid now and are taking power from GPL so our demand now in a single night is 180 megawatts and we only have 174 megawatts of installed capacity so you have, of necessity, to take some people off the grid.
The power company. for its part, appealed to factories, manufacturers and other large customers should manage their production schedules efficiently to conserve electricity. Generally, GPL asked all consumers to conserve on electricity by turning off lights, fans, air conditioning units and other appliances when not in use. GPL on Friday said it “recorded its highest-ever electricity generation and demand” in the DBIS with a peak demand of 182 megawatts compared to 154 megawatts for the corresponding period last year.
“This notable increase in electricity generation and consumption can be attributed to the increasingly high temperatures over the past few months and growth in the housing and commercial sectors,” GPL said in a statement, adding that there have been similar reports from other Caribbean countries.
With the fast-approaching Christmas season, when there is usually an increase in electricity consumption, the Vice President announced that government was investing in additional generating capacity. “We are just buying another 30 megawatts of power to come in hopefully before the end of the year, emergency, but this would resolve itself once that big 300-megawatt project is completed a year and a half from now,” he said in reference to the almost US$760 million natural gas-powered electricity generation plant being built at Wales, West Bank Demerara.
Mr Jagdeo used the opportunity to accuse the now opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) for the recent blackouts, claiming that no investments had been made between 2015 and 2020 while that coalition had been in power.
He said the then administration had scuttled the planned construction of a 165 megawatt hydropower plant at Amaila Falls. “On electricity, you see a spate of blackouts now. We had always argued that the lack of investment in a timely manner affects you because there’s a lag effect to the economic policy. It affects you down the road so when APNU killed the hydro and didn’t reinvest in new capacity
The APNU+AFC administration had finalised arrangements to purchase and install new generating sets for Garden of Eden, Bartica, Vreed-en-Hoop and Anna Regina.
GPL acknowledged that the rise in temperature has led to heightened use of air conditioning units and fans. In some instances, AC units and fans are left on in homes and businesses that are unoccupied, resulting in unnecessary energy wastage. To cushion the effects of this situation, GPL is seeking the support and cooperation of our customers in adopting conscientious electricity conservation practices.
GPL says it will continue to closely monitor this situation and encourages all customers to embrace electricity conservation as a daily practice.