GPL to ease off diesel generation this year

– $3.3B earmarked for upgrade
The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) aims to reduce its dependence on diesel generation from 32% to 5% by year end while $3.3 billion has been earmarked to upgrade substations and transmission lines.

Meantime, Lethem should see an improved electricity supply this year as $41 million has been budgeted for the purchase of a generating set and transformer for the Lethem Power Company. Residents in the border town had long complained of an unreliable electricity supply.

In his 2009 Budget presentation yesterday, Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh told the National Assembly that this year, GPL will increase its generating capacity by 20.7 megawatts, reduce production costs in the light of the resultant reduction in dependence on diesel and increased use of heavy fuel oil, rehabilitate the Canefield station, complete the 69KV links between Kingston and Sophia and between Skeldon and Number 53 Village and, in so doing, be better able to import all the available power to the grid from Skeldon. GPL’s aim is to reduce its dependence on diesel generation from 32% to 5% by year end, he declared.

Additionally, he said, they are currently in the advanced stages of designing a US$39.6 million project to finance upgrading of substations and transmission lines. This project is expected to facilitate the construction of 110 kilometres of single circuit 69KV overhead transmission lines and 1.8km of 69KV submarine cable, seven new substations and the expansion and upgrading of two existing substations, installation of a fibre optic network and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system for tele-metering and protection. These will serve to integrate all major load centres along the coast to permit centralized generation using cheaper heavy fuel oil and will facilitate efficient distribution of bulk power in the future. The minister said that $3.3 billion is budgeted to be expended under the project this year.

Meantime, apart from the purchase of a generating set for Lethem, 1,000 15-watt solar panels will be distributed to households in hinterland communities. The finance minister noted that government continues to subsidize community power in Linden, Kwakwani and Lethem at a projected cost of over $2 billion this year. Options for reforming the electricity rates charged and subsidies provided in these areas will continue to be examined during the year, he stated.

Dr Singh said government is programming that GPL will continue to reduce technical and commercial losses this year, with the replacement of main demand and minor meters along with the installation of prepaid meters. The use of prepaid meters has been identified as a key means to reduce losses and the pilot project involving installation of 2,000 meters will be designed to estimate the possible benefits that would result from widespread implementation. Further, the prosecution of defaulters and removal of illegal connections will be accelerated in an effort to achieve the set loss reduction target, he stated.

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