GPL facing ‘challenges’ in restoring power to Essequibo communities

Residents of the northern end of the Essequibo coast continued to experience daily power outages up to yesterday as the Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) said it was experiencing “challenges” in seeking to restore the electricity supply to the area.

Although GPL had promised that a normal supply of electricity would resume by last weekend, the company last evening, via Facebook, issued a public advisory for residents of Essequibo Coast saying, “As GPL seeks to restore normal electricity supply to the Essequibo Coast, we continue to experience challenges in providing continuous service to consumers between central Anna Regina and Charity, and Anna Regina and Mainstay/Whyaka.

“In light of this development, residents in these communities will receive electricity on a rotation basis for up to 15 hours daily. Please be assured that we will spare no effort to ensure normal power supply is restored.”

Regional Chairman Devanand Ramdatt, in a telephone interview with this newspaper, lamented that it has been eight days since the northern section of the Essequibo Coast had received a stable supply of electricity and he said the residents’ frustration continues to show.

“Presently, the Charity end which starts from Devonshire Castle to Charity is the most affected area… the present situation is one that points to efforts being made by the company to fix an existing generator that is causing some challenges and to be honest in Charity residents there experienced constant blackouts for eight days straight,” he noted.

It was against this backdrop that the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) on Thursday last facilitated a stakeholder’s meeting as part of attempts to obtain answers from the power company on what their short term solution would be, Ramdatt related.

The meeting, which was held in the boardroom of the RDC office at Anna Regina, saw the attendance of GPL Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Technical) Elwyn Marshall, GPL Regional Director Nigel Belfield, and representatives of the RDC and businesses in the region.

“We have communicated to the Regional Manager that we need answers from the very senior representatives of the company; we need answers and clear positions that the company will take and if they include the people of Region Two, then we can make informed decisions on the way forward,” Ramdatt said.

Marshall, in addressing the meeting, had said that GPL regretted the unreliable flow of current available in the region and reiterated that the power outages are due to loss of power in two major units, which could not be maintained to offer reliable service.

“The company has formulated a plan to minimise the periods of blackouts experienced throughout the northern section of the region. The Essequibo Coast has two sequences of power. Two years ago, a south system was established temporarily in Fairfield. Our plan is to relocate the set in Southfield to Anna Regina, this in turn would result in less load for the Anna Regina generator sets. At the same time, persons on the south will not experience power outages. …So that Charity can have some current for at least 12 hours. We are now fixing our equipment and have spare parts and more technicians. If all goes well, by Saturday the flow of electricity on the coast should be reverted to a state of normalcy,” he said.

Marshall also told those at the meeting that equipment was shipped from Miami to aid in the repairs and promised that by Saturday last and electricity will be restored as normal.

“We are sure that the set would be operational by tomorrow evening (Friday). GPL has paid to acquire three new units with 5.1 megawatts, the new units are expected to be commissioned by late October of this year,” he added.

However, according to the Regional Chairman those commitments have not yet been met and the reason given by GPL was due to continued difficulties with their engine.

“We are in a region when you have blackout, your internet goes down, your water supply system goes down and your telephone system goes down, cable television will go down and so residents have complained. Based on my interaction with them over a three-day period, I was told that a lot of them would have suffered losses,” Ramdatt related.

“Many fishermen have complained that they have had to dump fish and there are even more business owners who had things like chicken to dump; other businesses are complaining that their standby generators have to be working to supply 24-hour power,” he further noted.

Once the issue persists, the Chairman said the RDC and the Essequibo Chamber of Commerce will seek to engage the Regional Manager to have an update on what exactly the situation is and what is being done to rectify it for the benefit of those currently affected.

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