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PSC upset over constant blackouts

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has expressed concerns over the frequency of blackouts in Guyana and the Government’s failure to guarantee affordable and reliable energy.

Given the steady prolonged and unannounced power outages, the Commission also reprimanded the Government for shelving the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project without having an alternative plan.

“The previous government, with support of the IDB and CDB 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. So where do we go from here?”

The Amaila Falls Hydropower Project was the flagship of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy. Amaila would have delivered a steady source of clean, renewable energy that is affordable and reliable and is envisioned to meet approximately 90% of Guyana’s domestic energy needs while removing dependency on fossil fuels.

If approved initially, Amaila Falls could have been almost operational by now and consumers could have been close to seeing the end to expensive, unreliable and dirty electricity and Guyana would have been entering into the ranks of the top 10 users of clean energy worldwide.

In fact, a recent independent assessment of the project by Norconsult revealed that it is the only realistic path for Guyana moving towards an emission-free electricity sector.

However, Government ignored the facts of the report, as it did with the recommendations of several multimillion dollar COIs, and cancelled the project.

Meanwhile, with the Christmas season approaching, the PSC said it is concerned with the blackouts and the impacts on business and the citizenry.

“Needless to say, the majority of our citizens do not scan the newspapers everyday 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 out. 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.”

It noted also that Guyana’s manufacturing and
commercial sectors cannot function in these circumstances and, 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.

The Guyana Power & Light Inc., owned and operated by the government and who enjoy a
complete monopoly in providing the country’s power supply, have, within recent months,
subjected the entire country to a series of unannounced and frequently prolonged power outages.

The PSC observed that 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 PSC said the GPL recently from 2nd September to 5th November, 2017, announced a series of scheduled maintenance power cuts which, in Georgetown alone, amount 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.

Judging from this performance or, to be more accurate, absence of performance, the Commission said 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 is nothing short of a tragedy that a country with such immense hydro electric potential
resources should be made to tolerate this situation.”

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