GPL hopes to ease blackouts by mid-December, amid private sector concerns

Last Updated on Thursday, 2 November 2023, 21:45 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) hopes to reduce frequent blackouts by December 15, 2023 by buying  28 megawatts of generating capacity and repairing a 7.8 megawatt generator at its Kingston power plant, Public Works Minister Deodat Indar said Thursday.

“Between now and then, the load-shedding would have to be managed,” he told a news conference. He said the current peak demand was 172 megawatts and the generating capacity was 167 megawatts, a situation that has forced the power company to disconnect large consumers from the grid that together account for about 30 percent of consumption.

Flanked by several senior technical officials of the power company, he said a 2.25 megawatt generator at Skeldon was back on the grid.  Accompanying the 28 megawatt Hyundai generators would be a number of step-up/step-down transformers, according to Mr Indar.

With government subsidising the fuel cost to GPL to avoid increasing tariffs to consumers, the Public Works Minister said “a lot of the private sector has come on to the grid.”

According to a senior power company official, repairs to the 7.8 megawatt generator are expected to cost GY$130 million.

Among the reasons for the increased demand are more economic activity and additional housing settlements,  more air conditioning units and fans to cope with the hot weather and cheaper electricity charges for large consumers who returned to the grid because of subsidised  charges.  Asked why didn’t GPL forecast properly that the return of big consumers on the grid for 22 US cents per kilowatt hour rather than at a self-generation rate of 31 US cents per kilowatt hour would have resulted in increased demand, Mr Indar  said the power company did not have sufficient time to improve its generation capacity. “The migration on to the rid became more rapid…The speed at which people migrated to the system was faster than we could have bought generators….You really have to look to find reliable sets, standard certificates from the manufacturer to say that these sets are good,” he said.

The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday called on government to take a methodical approach towards managing the power company. “The Chamber is also of the view that better forecasting, planning and investments into the energy sector will profoundly mitigate this bugbear on the life of the Guyanese people,” that business organisation said in a statement.

The Chamber expressed its “profound disappointment” with the spate of power outages in Guyana, saying that was having an acute impact on the productivity of enterprises. “The GCCI has also noted that this is cascading into general underperformance of enterprises. This continued loss of productive time, disruption to production and an overall hindrance to the smooth functioning of business will impede both growth and investment prospects.”

GPL said Guyana’s total peak electricity consumption is expected to reach 236 megawatts in 2024.