Outages necessary for better service, Dindyal says

– but improvements don’t mean end to blackouts

During a media address at the company’s Sophia Complex, he said the company has tried time and again to explain the reason behind the outages but to no avail. Whether due to the inability of the public to understand the sometimes technical explanations offered, the company’s inability to sufficiently explain its position, or consumers’ unwillingness to deal with outages any longer, GPL continues to endure unrelenting criticism from ordinary citizens, sections of the business community and political parties.

Dindyal is convinced that the criticisms continue because persons do not understand the nature of the works which are taking place.

He said the works currently being undertaken are under the Infrastructure Develop-ment Project (IDP). GPL, in collaboration with the Government of Guyana and the China Export-Import Bank, through a concessionary loan of US$38.963 million is seeking to develop and expand its Transmission and Distribution System.

This project aims to see the construction of seven new 69/13.8 kV sub-stations, approximately 96km of 96 kV overhead transmission lines and the upgrade and expansion of three existing sub-stations.

GPL says these improvements will serve to integrate major load centres along the coast, and will provide the capability to move bulk power from large, efficient, heavy fuel oil fired generating plants in Demerara and Berbice to those load centres.

Additionally, new 13.8 kV primary distribution feeder outlets at the substations will allow existing long overloaded feeders, especially on the East and West Coast Demerara, to be segmented into shorter, more lightly loaded sections.

Additionally the company is seeking to switch out the existing 50 Hz transformers with 60 Hz transformers. This initiative has already commenced in and around Georgetown and is in fact approximately 90% complete.

Dindyal said that while areas areas along Hadfield Street, Regent Street and Vlissingen Road and around the Office of the President continue to have 50 Hz transformers, these are expected to be changed this Sunday. He said that by the end of this month all sections of Georgetown will be fitted with the far more efficient 60 kV transformers, which will avail a better supply of electricity in terms of frequency and voltage.

Dindyal said it is impossible for these areas not to experience outages while some of these works are ongoing. He said many of these areas have existing facilities, which need to be powered down in order for the necessary changes to be made. He added that when the areas he highlighted earlier are engaged this weekend, power will be interrupted to facilitate the necessary works.

Commenting on how these developments would also cut losses, Dindyal said that the 50 kV transformers are insufficient, old, and lead to losses.

He said additional losses in the system are experienced due to resistance in the line conductors and the old transformers. Dindyal said much of the power sent through the system was transferred to heat and never reached the customers.

Replacing these components of the company’s distribution system would, hopefully, cut these technical losses significantly.

Many of the meters currently in use will also have to be replaced since they were made to cater to a 50 kV system. Dindyal said these old meters will under-record power usage in the new 60 kV system by as much as 3%, leading to additional losses.

Once all of the necessary infrastructural work is completed, Dindyal said, the company will attempt to link the sub-stations, including the Chinese-inserted systems currently being built at the Sophia Complex. This is expected to be done on June 30 and will require GPL’s Georgetown system to be powered to down.

However, this will see a more efficient power supply, enabling customers to do more with less power usage. The GPL CEO said the company believes the increased efficiency will lead to a spike in the customers’ consumption. As such, GPL has just completed a 26 MW power plant to cater to the projected increase in demand.

Dindyal said that all of these works are expected to be completed by August month end.
He cautioned though, that these improvements do no infer that blackouts in Georgetown and along the coast will become a thing of the past. The systems, once completed, will be nowhere close to what is needed to prevent outages, although they will assist. He cited line maintenance exercises and repairs to damaged infrastructure as two factors which still have the propensity to lead to outages.

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