PPP to Gov’t: Release fact based assessment of Amaila Falls project

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The Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) has taken the government to task for politicking with the Amaila Falls Hydropower project and is calling for them to release the fact based assessment of the Amaila Falls project to the public.

The party noted that if the project was not voted down by the APNU/AFC in the National Assembly, it would have been operational by now and would have benefited the Guyanese businesses and citizens who are currently suffering from “expensive, unreliable, dirty electricity,” in addition to boosting the economy and proliferating green growth.

See full statement below:

An artist's render of what the project would have looked like
An artist’s render of what the project would have looked like

The Amaila Falls Hydropower project should be almost operational by now – and about to provide most Guyanese citizens and businesses with reliable, affordable, clean energy. Today, Guyana should be within months of becoming one of the top ten users of clean energy in the world.

Our country would already be benefitting from the biggest foreign direct investment in our history. Our economy would have been re-integrated with the global capital markets for the first time in over 40 years. This in turn, would have led to cheaper finance for Guyanese citizens and businesses.

Instead, Guyanese face years more of unreliable electricity supply and excessively high bills – with no end in sight. Blackouts last for up to 10 hours a day, and GPL is putting future electricity costs up by buying expensive, dirty energy supplies. Only two weeks ago, they bought four new oil-based generators.

The blame for this situation lies entirely with the APNU+AFC coalition.

The People’s National Congress (PNC) party, now APNU, caused Guyana to be excluded from the global capital markets in the first place – and the decades of zero investment in Guyana that resulted. Then in August 2013, they resumed their economic vandalism, working with like-minded partners in the Alliance for Change (AFC). They used their one-seat majority in the National Assembly to vote against the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project and they caused the US private developer, one of the world’s premier-league private investors, to withdraw.

Then, on assuming office in 2015, the APNU+AFC coalition continued with their economic vandalism by stopping the project in its tracks.

They justified these acts of vandalism through a series of inaccurate statements, including when the Finance Minister stood before the National Assembly and declared that to proceed with the Amaila Falls project would be “a downright criminal act of deception”. The Minister said that the Government’s “investigations” had revealed that Amaila Falls would cost GPL US$2.6 billion over 20 years. President Granger said that the Amaila Falls Hydropower project would saddle Guyanese with decades of debt.

The APNU+AFC coalition knows that none of these things are true. Neither are the countless other “justifications” made over the last two years.

Since long before August 2013, the APNU-AFC coalition has had access to exactly the same information on the project as the PPP/C.

They know that:

–          Guyana’s long-term energy strategy should be built with hydropower as its back-bone.

–          Amaila Falls has repeatedly been identified as the best-fit for the first major hydropower development in Guyana.

–          The best way to develop the project is as a public-private partnership, and in August 2013, Guyana had secured a best-in-class US private investor to be the major sponsor for Amaila Falls.

–          The contractor to build the project was selected through an open, competitive, international process.

–          The project meets the world-class social and environmental safeguards of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

–          The project would enable Guyana to move its baseload electricity generation capacity to almost 100% clean supply, something that is not possible with wind, solar or other forms of intermittent renewable energy.

–          Guyana could have sustained its global leadership on green growth and low carbon development, instead of being relegated to the rump of countries that talks about green growth but does not act.

Perhaps most shamefully of all, the APNU+AFC Coalition knows that, even using the financing structure of August 2013 (which would have been improved further had the project moved to financial close):

–          The APNU+AFC Coalition mis-led the National Assembly when they said that Amaila Falls will cost GPL US$2.6 Billion over 20 years, measured against 2012 prices – in fact, it will save GPL US$2 Billion, or GY$400 Billion, over 20 years, measured against 2012 prices;

–          President Granger was wrong when he said the project would saddle Guyanese with debt. There would be no public debt.

–          The Government’s contribution to Amaila Falls would largely come from US$80 million which was earned in payments from Norway and has been sitting – unused – in a bank account at the World Bank and then the Inter-American Development Bank for years.

–          By 2017, Amaila Falls could be generating about 50% more electricity than the entire GPL supply in 2012, for about half the cost.

–          Customers’ electricity bills would come down significantly from 2017, and would decrease in stages until they would be 90% cheaper than they were in 2012.

In 2015 the leader of the Opposition, Mr Bharrat Jagdeo, offered to help the Government understand and progress the Amaila Falls Hydropower project, and said that the PPP would support the Government if it put the people of Guyana’s interests first.

When the Government failed to take him up on his offer to help, he called for an independent study to help the Government proceed and welcomed the announcement that the Government of Norway would fund such a study.

A year ago, Minister Raphael Trotman said the study would be ready in May 2016. In July of this year, Minister Joseph Harmon said the report would be ready by September 1, 2016. Then a few days ago, we hear from the Government that it will not now be released until January 2017.

What is the Government hiding?

Why will they not release the study?

The PPP call for its immediate release.

This study is intended to help Guyanese citizens and businesses access an independent assessment of the merits of Amaila Falls. They should get the chance to do so.

The PPP continues to believe that the Amaila Falls Hydropower project can transform the quality of life for almost all Guyanese by liberating them from expensive, unreliable electricity bills.

We will support the Government once it is makes sincere efforts to help the people of this country. So they must stop using Amaila Falls for partisan politics and instead put the people and businesses of the country first.

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