President Donald Ramotar yesterday announced a 10% reduction in electricity rates beginning in March and the news was immediately welcomed by the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA).
Speaking at the commissioning of the US$35 million power plant at Vreed-en-Hoop, West Coast Demerara yesterday, Ramotar said the Guyana Power & Light (GPL) will be able to implement the reduction across the board.
This reduction in prices, he said, will come from a fuel rebate that according to its licenses operates on quarterly bases. The power company will convene public press conferences from today to announce the details.
“The reduction in electricity would put more disposable income into the pockets of our people,” the President said.
He added his hope that “those in the transportation sector” who have also recently benefited from the 30% reduction in fuel prices would also reduce their fares.
“The price of fuel we are enjoying now is one of the lowest in a long time. That is why we would like to address GPL electricity tariff,” Ramotar said. “A few weeks ago I asked the GPL to look at the impact of falling fuel prices and their ability to do this.”
Ramotar said government is committed to developing a modern energy infrastructure which will allow for more efficient transmission and better distribution of electricity.
He spoke about the link from Molsen Creek to Parika and said the next step is to distribute to Leguan, Wakenaam and across to the Essequibo Coast so that the entire country can be interlinked.
Through the interconnecting system, he said, the transmission of electricity is much faster. “Let’s say something goes down in Berbice and you want send electricity from Demerara to Berbice, it use to take four, five hours before you could do that, now it takes about 10 minutes…,” he said.
According to him, both commercial and technical losses will be reduced with this investment which will “expand the grid and expand many of the villages and areas not previously powdered…”
The President said the national policy must be focused on providing cheap and stable energy to this country, as it is important for the industrialization of Guyana and for creating new jobs.
Government is also committed to developing a modern energy infrastructure which will allow for more efficient transmission and better distribution of electricity, as well as to the completion of the Amaila Falls project that would result in cheaper energy and reduction in waste from agriculture products and adding value to them and giving more resources to farmers, he said.
Government is also “looking at the interior areas which are still too far away from the grid, to provide wind and solar energy and micro-hydro” so the communities can benefit from more power.
He said that in the next five years he wants to see significant development in solar energy in Guyana and government was ready to partner with others to build wind farms along the Atlantic coast.
Meanwhile, Ramotar congratulated GPL on the commissioning of the plant, saying that he had “several quarrels” with them when he hears about blackouts, especially since government had invested more than US$200 million in the sector.
“Some of the criticism of GPL is justifiable; they must do better. Our people deserve better, we cannot be comfortable with the frequency and regularity of blackouts that we have,” he said.
He iterated that his “administration is focused on improving our electricity supply and lowering the long-term cost and even when the price do go up they can be more efficient in trying to keep cost down.”
According to him, “GPL has taken a lot of licks” but he also asked for the company to be applauded on its achievement of 50,000 new persons on the grid.
Meanwhile, the PSC said the lowering of tariffs will provide relief not only to business but to individual consumers who have struggled with high electricity costs.
The cost of electricity has long been one of the major stumbling blocks to the expansion of industry and the competitiveness of Guyana’s exports, it said.
“Since the reduction in electricity costs will contribute to a reduction in production costs of both manufacturers and service providers, the commission would also like to see the cost of other energy-dependent goods and services going down. It is therefore calling on its members to pass any reductions on to their customers, the PSC said in a release.
It joined Ramotar in calling on the public transportation providers to follow suit.
Expressing relief, the GMSA said the reduced rates would be welcomed by Guyana’s manufacturers, service providers, commercial entrepreneurs, exporters and every other category of business owner.
It said it anticipated a spur in industrial growth across all sectors, diversification and new enterprises. “We have been watching closely the world’s responses to the dramatic fall in global fuel prices and we did anticipate that our manufacturers and the business community at large would begin to benefit sooner rather than later.
“In the same context, we anticipate that the costs for raw materials, transportation and related factors of production would simultaneously decrease,” the GMSA said in a statement.