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Error in distribution, not political affiliation caused repossession of solar panels in Port Kaituma

The Prime Minister’s office has refuted claims that solar panels issued to residents of Citrus Grove, Port Kaituma were repossessed because of the community’s political affiliation. A statement by the Hinterland Electrification Company Inc. which oversees the distribution of the energy apparatus, said that residents “inadvertently” received the device since they were already getting some amount of electricity.

According to the release signed by Horace Williams, CEO of the Electrification Company, the solar panels were meant for persons who, “were still without some degree of electrification.” The CEO said that the panels were not meant for persons attached to the communities mini-grid and were thus receiving some amount of electricity.

Williams said that the, “Solar Home Systems are intended for households that are too far away from an electricity grid or too far apart to make the installation of a grid feasible.” He continued that in connecting a household to a mini-grid in a hinterland location, there would likely be a central area and outlying households would be served by Solar Home Systems.

However, “There were errors made in the listing and distribution of Solar Home Systems at Citrus Grove, Port Kaituma. A number of households ended up with both benefits and were asked to return the Solar Home Systems they had inadvertently received.”

It was stated that from its inception, the electricity supply at Port Kaituma was extended towards Citrus Grove, picking up the area where households were not too far apart. “In preparing for the second phase of distribution of solar systems, when the Ministries of Amerindian Affairs and of Local Government requested lists of households which were still without some degree of electrification, Port Kaituma Power & Light was experiencing some difficulties and so Citrus Grove listed every household – those who had been connected to the grid, those who were in the grid area but could not afford to have their buildings properly wired, and those outside of the served area.”

When the project was then approved and the equipment procured had arrived, the distribution was setup to that original list, Williams claimed.

“It was recognised after distribution that many of the households that received systems were connected to the grid. The village leaders (who normally lead the distribution) completed the distribution according to the list. It should be understandable that requests would be made for those connected to the grid to return the Solar Home Systems, so that a brother or sister citizen of Guyana without any electricity would get that benefit.”

Williams said that the issue of political affiliation never arose in this matter and thus restated the call for the panels to be returned from those persons connected to the community’s mini-grid.

Port Kaituma residents claimed that their government- issued solar systems were being repossessed because several residents expressed openly their support for the opposition party. They said that members of the governing party noticed opposition paraphernalia posted on persons homes during an earlier visit.

The Hinterland Electrification Company Inc. stated however that the programme of providing Solar Home Systems to hinterland households began in 2007 and to date, nearly 20,000 hinterland households have benefited.