Moco-Moco hydroelectric plant to be rehabilitated by Brazilian company

An agreement is expected to be finalized next month for a Brazilian company to rehabilitate the long defunct Moco-Moco hydroelectricity plant, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds told Lethem residents on Saturday.

He said that the plant would be operational within a year. The Prime Minister, who is the minister responsible for the electricity sector, met with residents of the Region Nine community over the weekend to discuss issues including electricity, the supply of which had long been problematic in the border community. He officially informed residents that from Thursday, they will be receiving electricity on a 24-hour basis.

A businessman, who was present at the meeting, told Stabroek News that the Moco-Moco hydroelectricity project was also discussed and Hinds said that next month, Government expects to sign an agreement with a Brazilian company for the rehabilitation of the operations there. He said that the company would be repairing the power station and pipelines that were damaged in the landslide – which put it out of operation over six years ago. The Prime Minister assured residents that this would take less than a year.

The company, Incomex, which Stabroek News understands had approached government with the offer some time back, is financing the project. This newspaper was told that it is expected that the company will rehabilitate and operate the facility for a period of about 20 years and sell the electricity generated to the Lethem Power Company.

It has been over six years since rain and mudslides put the Moco-Moco Hydroelec-tricity plant out of commission. Ever since, power in the community was problematic and the border community normally received about 18 hours of electricity per day. Recently, this newspaper had reported that $30M had been allocated for the rehabilitation of the electrical network in the community while $40M was budgeted for a new 1-megawatt generator. Since the commissioning of the Takutu Bridge linking Guyana and Brazil overland earlier this month, a new generating set was installed in the community and Regional Chairman Clarindo Lucas had informed this newspaper that the community would be receiving electricity on a 24-hour basis from October 1.

Hinds, at the meeting also informed residents that the electricity rates will be increased and will move from $30 per kilowatt hour to $55 per kilowatt hour. However, he noted, the first 15 hours for the month will be provided free of cost. Even with the increased rates, government is still subsidizing the cost of electricity in the community.  “We are encouraged by the support by the government to develop the area slowly,” the businessman said.

Hydroelectricity has been in the spotlight recently and when the Takutu Bridge was commissioned on September 14, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil had affirmed his country’s commitment to the construction of the much talked about 800 megawatts hydropower plant in Guyana. He had announced that Brazilian officials will be visiting Georgetown in October to talk about this project. Lula, while emphasizing the importance of energy and electric power in carrying out all the potential for investment and cooperation between the two countries, said that he was “ready to have Brazilian companies finance the construction of hydropower plants in Guyana.” He said that this initiative would also benefit the Brazilian state of Roraima.

Meantime, Brazil’s Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao in a recent interview with Bloomberg said that Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, Latin America’s largest utility, aims to build power plants in Peru, Guyana, Argentina and other Latin American countries to secure energy supplies as economic growth picks up. Eletrobras, as the state-controlled company is known, plans to help build five power plants in Peru with a total capacity to produce about 5,000 megawatts and an 800-megawatt dam in Guyana, Lobao said.

Brazil will import power generated by the Guyana dam that is not needed in that country, Lobao said while pointing out that Guyana is likely to use just 100 megawatts from the 800-megawatt project. Brazil’s national bank for economic and social development, or BNDES, is willing to finance power projects abroad, the Minister told Bloomberg.

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