Sithe keeps country in suspense on Amaila

…to issue statement today

President of Sithe Global, Brian Kubeck says that the company would be communicating its position on whether or not it will continue its involvement in the Amaila Falls Hydro project today and declined to give any indication of what direction its decision may take.

Kubeck was yesterday asked by Stabroek News his company’s position given the passage on Wednesday in Parliament of the Hydro Power Amendment Bill and the adoption yesterday of a motion to raise the limit on borrowing by public corporations and companies. Sithe had said these matters needed to be supported by all three parties in parliament to continue its investment here but only two gave their

blessing. The main opposition APNU voted against. Sithe Global, a subsidiary of the Blackstone Group, is the project developer for the US$858.2 million Amaila project.

Speaking to Stabroek News last evening, Kubeck said that the company’s position would not be available to make it into the press for today’s editions. He however was terse when asked about the nature of the statement that the company would be making, which he said would be broadly available.

“The company would be [releasing a statement] to the press tomorrow (today). I am afraid I cannot say anything else at this stage,” Kubeck said.
Sithe Global was very firm in its language used in a project summary presentation for Opposition Members of Parliament last week and again in a press release this week, in which they stated that unless there is universal parliamentary support for the project – that is, from PPP/C, APNU and AFC – they will not be able to continue funding the development of the Amaila Falls hydro.

Even when the AFC indicated that it was of a mind to support the measures for the Amaila project, Kubeck in an emailed response to this newspaper’s queries insisted that there must be consensus among all of the parties before the company would continue to spend its money and expertise on the project. According to Sithe’s press release this week, the company has already spent US$16 million on the project.

At Wednesday’s parliamentary sitting which spilled over to the early hours of yesterday morning, APNU resolutely opposed both the Bill and the motion, saying that it remains unconvinced that all of its concerns as to the final cost to the consumer have been addressed satisfactorily.

The AFC supported both the Bill and the motion, tipping them over the number needed to be carried in the House. Leader of the AFC Khemraj Ramjattan said that the party did not want to stand in the way of the development but was still waiting to see the results of the Inter-American Development Ba

nk (IDB)’s due diligence on the project. This study is looking at the project’s environmental and economic viability as well as the Guyana Power and Light’s (GPL) ability to manage the power coming from the project and its capacity to reduce losses in the network.

Ramjattan rejected the argument of Professor Clive Thomas who said the AFC should not leave the matter of their support in the hands of the IDB. Ramjattan said that the party is comfortable with this position since the IDB has the technical personnel to do such studies.

The IDB has recently released an addendum to the 2011 Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of the project and this is now available publicly so that concerned stakeholders could submit comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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