Opposition legislator, Carl Greenidge is questioning the feasibility of investing US$840 million in a hydropower plant that he says will at a minimum generate 105 megawatts of electricity.
Well-placed sources said the current night-time peak demand is 108 megawatts and daytime is an estimated 95 megawatts, an amount that does not include Linden and self-generating industries like Banks DIH and Demerara Distillers Limited.
The Amaila Falls Hydropower Plant (AFHP) is expected to generate 165 megawatts, an amount that Greenidge said would be insufficient by the time the project is completed within three years.
“If Amaila goes as per scheduled, before Amaila is three years in operation we are likely to have to go find additional power sources,” he told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com). He explained that while the rated capacity of the plant would be 165 megawatts, the flow of water would was only likely to deliver an estimated 105 megawatts.
A former Finance Minister in the 1980s-1990s, Greenidge argues that if the private sector remains off the grid because of little change in electricity rates, the project will be a loss-maker.
“The private sector is not likely to switch from their generators to the grid and if that switch doesn’t take place, the Amaila will not reach a break-even point soon,” he said
The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has also acknowledged that even after AFHP, Guyana would have to find additional power sources.
“It will be too small…That’s correct. You’ll have to expand. There are other hydro-electric…,” said PSC spokesman, Kit Nascimento. PSC Chairman, Ronald Webster, however, argued that the life-span of expensive hydropower plants makes it more economical compared to fossil fuel generators that must be replaced every 18 years.
“You’ve got several other hydro power sites. I wouldn’t say that that specific hydro project would be expanded but you would be able to set up other smaller hydro project sites so that you get incremental amounts,” he added.
While Greenidge and the PSC are in unison about the need for cheap power to drive manufacturing but they differ on whether the price of fossil fuel would rise in the future.
Greenidge contends that the US’ eventual use of alternative energy sources will result in relatively stable oil prices but the PSC Chairman thinks otherwise.
Government’s calculations show that AFHP will yield an estimated 20 percent reduction in electricity tariffs and so residential consumers will save about $208.7 million monthly or $2.5 billion annually and commercial entities will save $1.1B annually.