GUYANA: ‘The blackout nightmare’…. Govt. of deliberately keeping nation in “dark ages” – Opinion

Glenn Lall

– flags wasteful spending with no results to show

“The Coalition went in, blackout stopped and GPL was running and making money. As soon as the PPP come back, the nightmare returns and GPL gone back being a milking cow.” – Glenn Lall

Amid an increase in power outages across the country, businessman and publisher of the Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall has called for a radical shake-up of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) and he said it is not a coincidence that since the PPP/C has returned to government the electricity sector here has drastically declined. He questioned the huge amounts of money that has been pumped into the sector over the years with little to show for it.         

For the past week, there were several hours of blackout across the country – with Friday being one of the worst. Also on Thursday, there was hours of blackout starting approximately 07:52hrs. This was blamed on a fault at the company’s Garden of Eden Power Plant resulting in the loss of approximately 37 Megawatt (MW) of generation. The sudden loss of generation caused a cascading effect on the gird which resulted in a shutdown of the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS).

Speaking on his Friday night radio programme, ‘The Glenn Lall Show’, Lall said Guyanese are living in blackouts on a daily basis. He said one of the most important things on earth today, other than food and clean drinking water, is electricity. “Without electricity, this world will go way, way back in time, moving at a snail’s pace. Electricity is what have this world spinning, electricity makes, gives and does everything. One billion people on earth do not have access to it and two billion is living with limited access to it. Electricity is almost like breathing, when it stops, then everything stops, is like you living in a coma, a constant state of midnight, without even a candle, yet 75 percent of Guyanese, three out of four, are living with blackouts daily…”

He said electricity should be the number one priority of every government, noting that without electricity today you cannot educate a nation. “Electricity powers the manufacturing sectors across this globe that got this world spinning, that brings about competition and real money.” Lall said the electricity situation has gotten so bad in this country that every business and even some households have generators and some have even turned to solar. “Do you know any business in Guyana without a generator? You know of any home that can afford a generator and doesn’t have one? Or solar power and didn’t go to the expense of getting it, once it can be afforded?

Guyana has been this way for the last 30 years, you know why; it is because of these third world leaders you have who do not understand their country’s priorities. Every day you can hear them telling you to compete with the world, set up manufacturing capacity and capability to compete with the outside world. With what? With blackouts? And that cost we paying for electricity?”

Lall drew reference to the global situation, alluding to Russia – under pressure from the West cutting off gas supplies to Poland with a population of 44M people and Bulgaria. “Russia is also supplying Germany and other parts of Europe with gas. The EU Head said what Russia has done to those two countries has fast tracked the phasing out of gas electric to much greener electric supply meaning solar, water and wind generation, because Russia can cut off their gas supply too. These are thinkers for leaders. They are calculating the risks from everywhere, and preparing already on how to be in the best position not to be harmed by Russia, but to be ready as best as they can. You think they want to wake up without heat in their homes or their manufacturing sector is down because of Putin, no, no, these people are setting their priorities right and their number one priority is power generation,” Lall said.

Jagdeo’s presidency.

Harking back to the Bharrat Jagdeo presidency, Lall said the country was never out of blackout and GPL was always losing money. “The money being pumped into GPL for stable electricity in this country could have given one billion people around the world, without electric(ity), power in their homes, and by now no one would have had an electricity bill when the month come – that is the kind of money they swindled over the years from the treasury into GPL all in the name of taking care of blackouts.” Lall asked whether with all that money being pumped into GPL the situation has changed. “The Coalition went in, blackout stopped and GPL was running and making money. As soon as the PPP come back, the nightmare returns and GPL gone back being a milking cow.” He added, “Every year the amount of tax dollars being spent by the government through the budget, a new generation plant could have been built supplying the entire Caribbean with enough non-stop electricity 20 years now. Instead, they pumping money, giving you more and more nightmares.”

Lall said Jagdeo announced at a bottom house meeting two days ago in Berbice that his government will be spending $32B on flooding, “not on fixing the lifetime sore Guyana is living with called electricity, that is not important to him, his priority is on digging a few trenches here and there, clean some canals and gutters in which 32 billion dollars will vanish in thin air leading into the Atlantic Ocean…”

Lall explained that $32B is equal to US$160M. “US$160M can give every home in the three counties electricity and dump GPL. US$160M can give us 160MW without ever going into blackouts, that’s all Guyana needs at present, that’s all Guyana is using right now. But that US$160M they will never spend it to stop the blackouts, they want you to continue living in the dark ages, stuck in stagnation, never moving forward, in misery. That US$160M must have already disappeared from the treasury by the time he spoke at the bottom house meeting.”

Lall said too that the US$190M government is taking as loans from overseas banks to build the Mabura road, Linden to Lethem trail, that money is more than the US$160M and, “…can add a little more electricity than what Guyana needs to facilitate the new manufacturing sector to compete with the world, and again end the misery you living in called blackouts.”

But according to Lall, the bush road in the interior for a couple people is priority for Jagdeo and the government not to eradicate blackouts in this country. “You know why this is not number one priority for them, because they can’t milk the cow anymore. By keeping us where we are, with blackouts every hour, it gives them the opportunity to announce this project and that project all with one thing in mind, fattening their pockets or their friends’ pockets with projects and contracts.”

Only recently government announced that they are looking for someone to supply 50MW to the grid. Using figures from the last Power Purchase Agreement, the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) had with Giftland Mall, it is understood that the 50 megawatts (MW) of power that the company is seeking to purchase, can cost around $377 million, monthly. The power company recently published an Expression of Interest (EOI) where it said it is hunting for Independent Power Producers (IPPs) that can supply 50 MW of power to the national grid for three years, commencing from March 2023. GPL said, “the state-owned electric utility company, invites technically and financially sound IPPs to submit an EOI to supply a total of 50 MW HFO-fired Firm Power Generating Capacity (gross) on a 24-hour basis with appropriate substations to interconnect with the 69 kV National Grid (the project) by March 2023 for a period of three years.”

However, this project can add a $375 million monthly bill to the power company. In January 2020, GPL inked a power purchase agreement with Giftland Mall proprietor, Roy Beepat, to supply the national grid with 4.5 MW of electricity.

It was later revealed that an estimated $34 million each month was being forked out to purchase the badly needed power from the Giftland Mall, to compensate for the shortfall of electricity. Beepat said that the power itself would cost around $9.9 million per month while fuel cost is estimated to be $29.5 million.

This means that if GPL was paying $34 million each month for 4.5 MW, 1MW of power would cost just over $7.5 million. Using the $7.5 million per megawatt for the 50 MW, GPL is currently looking to add, this would amount to $375 million. The monthly charge to supply the added power to the grid could therefore be over $370 million. This is also a mere projection as the cost for fuel has also increased since 2020.

Environmentalist, Alfred Bhulai in a recent letter to this newspaper urged that government invest its resources into solar energy instead. He said, “The hidden costs of the gas-to-power projects are slowly bubbling up: GPL has to find 50 MW of heavy fuel oil generation; and they are looking for some other company to deliver seamless connections without transmission and distribution problems.”

According Bhulai, GPL is caught in an “inefficiency trap”, as it still only aims to deliver electricity at 80 percent power factor, and consumers are allowed to operate at “unbelievably lower power factors”. In addition, he said he also noticed that the many transformers required in this system seem to have no maintenance. He noted that checks for moisture and oxidation are not done until a transformer blows out to indicate replacement. “There seems to be a normal state of emergency in running things. The gas-to-power project panders to these inefficiencies and lets GPL off the hook. One day the gas will be finished; what then? The immediate answer is to invest instead in solar power beginning with the new housing areas being built,” the environmentalist urged.

Bhulai suggested that 10,000 new homes can be powered by 50 MW of solar energy. He said, “Let people manage their own electric power. 10,000 new homes can be comfortably powered with 50 MW, for which there will be no technical and ‘commercial’ losses. Get rid of the old power line mentality, the inefficiencies and instabilities of which subject us to unreliable electricity.”>

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  • Francis Quamina Farrier  On 05/07/2022 at 5:54 pm

    The CREATOR has Blessed Guyana with so many waterfalls and rapids which can be harnessed and developed for HYDRO POWER. Waaaay back in the 1930s the British harnessed the TUMATUMARI Falls which is still producing CHEAP electricity for those living in the area. WHEN will the Powers-that-be of Guyana of TODAY, harness more Falls and Rapids? The Marshall Falls just outside Bartica for a start?

    • Dennis Albert  On 05/09/2022 at 7:37 am

      That don’t fatten bank accounts, buy Pradoville mansions and import Italian luxury cars which cost as much as a mansion in the USA.

  • wally n  On 05/08/2022 at 9:22 am

    100% AGREE sometimes the solution is too close to be seen!!

  • Dennis Albert  On 05/09/2022 at 7:36 am

    Open-minded white man and his Guyanese wife lament the problems remigrating to Guyana:

    G$6M (US$30,000) for a quarter acre land? Florida land cheaper I heard.

    • Brother Man  On 05/09/2022 at 4:16 pm

      “Open-minded white man and his Guyanese wife lament the problems remigrating to Guyana …” Trevor.

      What’s wrong with simply stating “Englishman instead of emphasizing ‘white man’?

      • Dennis Albert  On 05/10/2022 at 5:56 am

        The White man no longer has a monopoly on British citizenship, as much as the Polish nationalist wants to exterminate the non-whites. The Mayor of London is a Muslim Brown man of Pakistani descent.

      • Brother Man  On 05/10/2022 at 9:11 am

        Lame strawman argument!

      • Dennis Albert  On 05/10/2022 at 11:54 am

        Trevor, while we are arguing with each other, CGX just found a massive oil find in the Corentyne Block. They are becoming richer.

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