Hike in electricity rates for Linden, Berbice River residents beginning this year – Singh

Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh on Friday announced that government will this year begin a phased increase of electricity rates for residents in Linden and in the Berbice River, to bring them in line with what Guyana Power and Light Company (GPL) grid customers already pay.

He disclosed the plan while presenting this year’s $192.8 billion budget in the National Assembly.

“…Over the past several years since the privatisation of the bauxite operations in Linden and the Berbice River, government has been subsidising electricity rates in these communities,” he said. “Currently, in Linden, electricity costs between $5 and $15 per kWh, while on the GPL grid customers pay an average of $64 per kWh. The total cost of this electricity subsidy was $2.9 billion last year, the equivalent of 10 percent of GPL’s total revenues,” he added.

Starting from this year, Singh said the subsidised rates would be revised to align them with the national rates on the GPL grid.

Prime Minister Sam Hinds in 2008 had said that for the year before, the average monthly household consumption on the Linden grid was 320 kWh while on the GPL grid it was 150 kWh. He had also detailed the central government expenditure for electricity in Linden over the years 2001 to 2007: 2001 – $847 million; 2002 – $827 million; 2003 – $1,156 million; 2004 – $1,392 million; 2005 – $1,279 million; 2006 – $1,669 million; and 2007 – $1,742 million.

Singh, meanwhile, said that GPL’s capital works, started in 2011, will be continued in 2012. By the time the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project comes online, he explained, GPL will have a totally integrated transmission system operating at 69 KV that will allow power to be transferred from Skeldon to the Essequibo Coast, with the entire GPL system operating at 60 Hz.

He also noted that works on the GPL US$39 million Chinese funded transmission and distribution project will continue during 2012. Additionally, the company will advance the conversion of its 50 Hz Wartsila engines to 60 Hz so that by next year the entire grid will operate at 60 Hz.

“GPL is currently pursuing initiatives to improve the overall efficiency of its operations, including a reduction of technical and commercial losses, reducing the incidence of electricity theft and commencing training in the modelling and analysis of power systems,” Singh added. “To this end, GPL is seeking to recruit a number of technical managers who will assist the company in improving its capability to adequately manage its system and integration of the hydropower,” he further said.

Advertisements have already appeared in the print media for the personnel that GPL is seeking.

Government will spend an additional $50 million for the design of a 330 kW micro-hydropower project at Kato to boost electricity supply in the hinterland. “This will benefit 2,700 persons in Sub-Region 1 of Region 8 and support commercial farming and agro-processing activities. Also, there will be a continuation of the distribution of over 8,000 solar panels under the Hinterland Electrification Programme,” Singh noted.

He also said an allocation of $94 million has been made for the construction of a power supply distribution network at Matthews Ridge and the acquisition of solar panels, transformers and generators for areas such as Lethem, Moruca, Barabina, Waramadong, Kato, Aishalton, Wakapau, Caria Caria, Low Wood and Rockstone.

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