The 50 year lease for the Windfarm Project was issued by the previous government not this one

Dear Editor,

I refer to the statements made by both the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Bharrat Jagdeo, and Member of Parliament, Mr Juan Edghill, which challenged the Government of Guyana’s support of the Hope Beach Windfarm Project; this project would supply power to the national grid at a price they assumed would be higher than US$0.12 per kW. According to the opposition members, this transaction is “corrupt” for not being tendered and for the involvement of Mr Lloyd Singh, a businessman who is considered to be a supporter of this government. Mr Jagdeo and Mr Edghill further misrepresented that this government had issued Mr Singh a 50 year lease of lands at Hope Beach for the project.

I responded by pointing out the duplicity of the allegations, specifically that the transaction originated since 2000 but did not take off due to the previous developer’s failure to secure financing. The former government had, in 2007, issued the developer a 50 year lease of lands at Hope Beach for the project and, in 2014, approved the said Lloyd Singh’s participation in the project and the sale of power to the Guyana Power & Light Inc (GPL) at US$0.18 per kW on a BOOT arrangement.

Mr Samuel Hinds, former Prime Minister with responsibility for the power sector, in an attempt to provide perspective and justification for agreeing to such terms, now advises that “the reported claim of the businessman Lloyd Singh of having a 50-year lease should be thoroughly checked.” It must be emphasized that it is not this government that issued the project a 50 year lease; rather, it was issued during Mr Jagdeo’s tenure.  The rights to the said development were never tendered.

Further, having kept the transaction alive for 15 years with the hope of the Hope Beach Windfarm Project being the first major renewable energy project to serve the national grid, the retired Prime Minister now suggests that the environment for renewable energy development has changed significantly since the APNU+AFC Coalition Government came into office at the end of 2015 and that the considerations, once valid and relevant to the transaction during the PPP administration, are no longer so.  He further recommends that the MOU and other agreements the then government entered into with the developer should now be scrutinized and terminated if lacking compliance.

Since 1994, renewable energy development generally, and supplying the national grid, has been a major pillar of our national energy policy.  The former Prime Minister – having held responsibility for the power sector for 21 years but without success in achieving any major form of renewable energy development – would be, more than anyone else, intimately aware of the many challenges in bringing such development to reality.

Indeed, in recent years there has been increased world attention and promotion of all forms of renewable energy to counter climate change and to move towards more sustainable means of development.  While international financing to support this agenda has increased, affordable financing on terms acceptable to government, without adding to the national debt, continues to be a major challenge which every government in our circumstances has to address and determine what is in the best interest of the country.  It goes without saying that every investment opportunity, whether private or public has to be justified; the Hope Beach Windfarm Project is no exception.  As stated previously, the government is supported with expert advice in reviewing this investment opportunity and will make its final decision when the developer completes studies and presents a final proposal to the government.

Yours faithfully,

David Patterson, MP

Minister of Public Infrastructure (with responsibility for Electricity and Energy)

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