Private Sector blasts GPL over unreliable power supply

-says company lacks management or capacity to deliver

Following continuing countrywide power outages over the recent months, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) yesterday issued a searing attack on the Guyana Power and Light Company Inc. (GPL), saying that the utility company doesn’t have the management or capacity to deliver reliable power to the public.

“The majority of our citizens are also not blessed with private generators to provide alternative power to save the food they have stored in the freezers and refrigerators,” the PSC statement said.

“Judging from this performance or, to be more accurate, absence of performance, GPL simply have neither the management nor the capacity to deliver a reliable power supply to the country and the government has consistently failed to address this reality,” it added.

Stabroek News reached out to Chairman of GPL’s board Robert Badal for a response but calls to his mobile number went unanswered. At his office, a receptionist informed that he was not there and she was not sure if he was in the country.

The same futile results were had when calls were made to Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson. This newspaper was told that he was out of town on work-related matters.

And while Chief Executive Officer Renford Homer responded to a call with a text that he should be called later, several calls to his number were never returned.

PSC Chairman Eddie Boyer told this newspaper that the statement was released due to concerns the organisation has, especially with the Christmas season near and given that consumption demands increase during that period. He said the PSC wants to know what assurances will be given. “With Christmas coming what assurances do we have from GPL, given their performance over the recent months?” the PSC Chairman asked.

GPL, which is owned and operated by the government, provides the majority of the country’s power supply. However, within recent months, the nation had been subjected “to a series of unannounced and frequently prolonged power outages,” the PSC statement noted.

“There has been no credible explanation from the company’s management nor Board for these failures and none from the responsible Minister. To add insult to injury, the GPL recently from 2nd September to 5th November, 2017, announced a series of scheduled maintenance power cuts which, in Georgetown alone, amount[ing] to a total of 149 hours spread between 17 sections of the city. In addition, power cuts averaging about 5 hours each were scheduled for the Essequibo Coast, Berbice, East and West Bank Demerara, West Coast Demerara, Soesdyke and East Canjie,” the statement said.

“Needless to say, the majority of our citizens do not scan the newspapers every day to see for when there is going to be a scheduled power cut and, as a result, are taken by surprise when the power goes,” it added.

Pointing to the country’s manufacturing and commercial sectors, the PSC said that it cannot function in these circumstances. “In this day and age, at the exorbitant price that we are expected to pay for electricity, Guyana’s population should not be subjected to this punishment. As the Christmas season approaches, this has now become an even more pressing source of concern for the populace,” it said.

The PSC also blasted government for its shelving of the Amaila Falls Hydro Project (AFHP), which it said the previous government, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, put a lot of work into.

“It is nothing short of a tragedy that a country with such immense hydro electric potential resources should be made to tolerate this situation. The previous government, with support of the IDB [InterAmerican Bank] and CDB [Caribbean Development Bank] and funding from Norway, negotiated a major American power company to build and operate the Amaila Falls Project. Our current government has put the project in cold storage while offering no acceptable alternative,” the PSC said.

Government has said that the project was too expensive and even if it wanted to consider it at this time the copyrights are with a Chinese company, which it would have to first pay possible large sums for. This is notwithstanding the fact that the company can also refuse to sell.

In an interview with Stabroek News last month, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said the AFHP is too costly to explore and the government does not have the financial wherewithal or intellectual property documents at its disposal. Given these circumstances, he said it would be virtually impossible to enlist a new investor, and as a result a decision was taken to look at other energy alternatives.

It is to this end that Harmon said that government was working assiduously to have an energy mix that maximises its current offshore natural gas supply. Plans to establish this, he said, was currently being discussed since it will be far cheaper in the long term. Following continuing countrywide power outages over the recent months, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) yesterday issued a searing attack on the Guyana Power and Light Company Inc. (GPL), saying that the utility company doesn’t have the management or capacity to deliver reliable power to the public.

“The majority of our citizens are also not blessed with private generators to provide alternative power to save the food they have stored in the freezers and refrigerators,” the PSC statement said.

“Judging from this performance or, to be more accurate, absence of performance, GPL simply have neither the management nor the capacity to deliver a reliable power supply to the country and the government has consistently failed to address this reality,” it added.

Stabroek News reached out to Chairman of GPL’s board Robert Badal for a response but calls to his mobile number went unanswered. At his office, a receptionist informed that he was not there and she was not sure if he was in the country.

The same futile results were had when calls were made to Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson. This newspaper was told that he was out of town on work-related matters.

And while Chief Executive Officer Renford Homer responded to a call with a text that he should be called later, several calls to his number were never returned.

PSC Chairman Eddie Boyer told this newspaper that the statement was released due to concerns the organisation has, especially with the Christmas season near and given that consumption demands increase during that period. He said the PSC wants to know what assurances will be given. “With Christmas coming what assurances do we have from GPL, given their performance over the recent months?” the PSC Chairman asked.

GPL, which is owned and operated by the government, provides the majority of the country’s power supply. However, within recent months, the nation had been subjected “to a series of unannounced and frequently prolonged power outages,” the PSC statement noted.

“There has been no credible explanation from the company’s management nor Board for these failures and none from the responsible Minister. To add insult to injury, the GPL recently from 2nd September to 5th Novem-ber, 2017, announced a series of scheduled maintenance power cuts which, in Georgetown alone, amount[ing] to a total of 149 hours spread between 17 sections of the city. In addition, power cuts averaging about 5 hours each were scheduled for the Essequibo Coast, Berbice, East and West Bank Demerara, West Coast Demerara, Soesdyke and East Canjie,” the statement said.

“Needless to say, the majority of our citizens do not scan the newspapers every day to see for when there is going to be a scheduled power cut and, as a result, are taken by surprise when the power goes,” it added.

Pointing to the country’s manufacturing and commercial sectors, the PSC said that it cannot function in these circumstances. “In this day and age, at the exorbitant price that we are expected to pay for electricity, Guyana’s population should not be subjected to this punishment. As the Christmas season approaches, this has now become an even more pressing source of concern for the populace,” it said.

The PSC also blasted government for its shelving of the Amaila Falls Hydro Project (AFHP), which it said the previous government, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, put a lot of work into.

“It is nothing short of a tragedy that a country with such immense hydro electric potential resources should be made to tolerate this situation. The previous government, with support of the IDB [InterAmerican Bank] and CDB [Caribbean Development Bank] and funding from Norway, negotiated a major American power company to build and operate the Amaila Falls Project. Our current government has put the project in cold storage while offering no acceptable alternative,” the PSC said.

Government has said that the project was too expensive and even if it wanted to consider it at this time the copyrights are with a Chinese company, which it would have to first pay possible large sums for. This is notwithstanding the fact that the company can also refuse to sell.

In an interview with Stabroek News last month, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said the AFHP is too costly to explore and the government does not have the financial wherewithal or intellectual property documents at its disposal. Given these circumstances, he said it would be virtually impossible to enlist a new investor, and as a result a decision was taken to look at other energy alternatives.

It is to this end that Harmon said that government was working assiduously to have an energy mix that maximises its current offshore natural gas supply. Plans to establish this, he said, was currently being discussed since it will be far cheaper in the long term.

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