Norway awaiting details on gov’t’s ‘green economy’ plans

-climate initiative director

The delayed review of the financial model of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) is expected to be completed soon even as Oslo awaits details on Guyana’s much touted plans for a “green economy.”

“Norway is awaiting more details on the main pillars of the green economy and how it builds on the Low Carbon Development Strategy from 2009/2013,” Director of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative Per Fredrik Pharo told Stabroek News last week.

“This is important be-cause the Guyana-Norway Agreement from 2009 builds on the foundation of the Low Carbon Development Strategy,” he added, while noting the government’s stated intention to develop a green economy.

Per Fredrik Pharo
Per Fredrik Pharo

The report on the AFHP review, which was due on September 1, is expected to determine whether the controversial project will go ahead. Norconsult, a Norwegian company was contracted to undertake the task. Both Guyana and Norway agreed on the company.

The David Granger-led administration believes that the project’s current financial model could shackle many generations of Guyanese to debt and is reluctant to proceed with it in its current form. Norway had strongly supported the AFHP – the flagship project of the five-year forests protection partnership between the two countries – and had previously urged the APNU+AFC administration to consider its merits.

Recently, Pharo, while not giving a specific time, told Stabroek News that the review of the AFHP is expected to be completed soon. It was announced earlier this month that early next year Guyana would issue a plan detailing its clean energy transition, including a facts-based consideration of the AFHP and all other possible renewable energy options.

Several goals of the forests partnership, under which Guyana stood to earn up to US$250 million in performance-based payments, are still to be met and when asked about any negotiations to extend the agreement, Pharo indicated that work is still being done to reach the shared goals. The partnership was supposed to end last year. However, the final payments for results achieved is still to be made.

A statement from the office of the Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo on Saturday criticised the government for not releasing the Amaila study. “A year ago, Minister Raphael Trotman said the study would be ready in May, 2016. In July of this year, Minister Joseph Harmon said the report would be ready by September 1, 2016. Then a few days ago, we hear from the government that it will not now be released until January, 2017. What is the government hiding? Why will they not release the study? The PPP calls for its immediate release,” it said.

Liberating

“This study is intended to help Guyanese citizens and businesses access an independent assessment of the merits of Amaila Falls. They should get the chance to do so. The PPP continues to believe that the Amaila Falls Hydropower project can transform the quality of life for almost all Guyanese by liberating them from expensive, unreliable electricity bills. We will support the government once it is makes sincere efforts to help the people of this country. So they must stop using Amaila Falls for partisan politics and instead put the people and businesses of the country first,” it added.

Putting forward a case for the Amaila Falls project, the statement said that had it been approved from the point of initiation, it would have been almost operational by now and the citizenry would have benefitted from reduced electricity rates.

“The Amaila Falls Hydropower project should be almost operational by now – and about to provide most Guyanese citizens and businesses with reliable, affordable, clean energy. Today, Guyana should be within months of becoming one of the top ten users of clean energy in the world. Our country would already be benefitting from the biggest foreign direct investment in our history. Our economy would have been re-integrated with the global capital markets for the first time in over 40 years. This in turn, would have led to cheaper finance for Guyanese citizens and businesses,” it argued.

Instead, it says Guyanese face years more of unreliable electricity supply and excessively high bills, with no end in sight. “Blackouts last for up to 10 hours a day, and GPL is putting future electricity costs up by buying expensive, dirty energy su-pplies. Only two weeks ago, they bought four new oil-based generators,” it added.

The statement blamed the APNU and AFC for the withdrawal of the project’s developer in 2013 and charged that upon assuming office in 2015, the APNU+AFC coalition continued with its “economic vandalism by stopping the project in its tracks.”

“They justified these acts of vandalism through a series of inaccurate statements, including when the Finance Minister stood before the National Assembly and declared that to proceed with the Amaila Falls project (as currently configured) would be `a downright criminal act of deception.’ The Minister said that the Government’s `investigations’ had revealed that Amaila Falls would cost GPL US$2.6 billion over 20 years. President Granger said that the Amaila Falls Hydropower project would saddle Guyanese with decades of debt. The APNU+AFC coalition knows that none of these things is true. Neither are the countless other `justifications’ made over the last two years. Since long before August 2013, the APNU+AFC coalition has had access to exactly the same information on the project as the PPP/C,” it added.

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