Giftland halts supply of electricity to GPL due to damaged turbocharger

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After starting with a “good run”, the Giftland Mall’s supply of electricity to the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL) was disrupted after a surge in power blew its turbocharger.

This was revealed by Chairman of the Giftland Group, Roy Beepat, during a recent interview with this media entity.

“We had an accident where [GPL] had a feedback to our turbocharger and they blew it from the grid. So, right now we’re waiting for the new turbocharger to come in so that we could start resupplying the grid,” he explained.

According to Beepat, this occurred back in December 2020 and the system is expected to be back up in two months’ time.

“They had a voltage surge on the line and we have three feedback which failed to protect our equipment. It’s unfortunate. So, we’re trying to work it out so that it doesn’t happen again and we hope to be back up in another six to eight weeks,” the Giftland Boss noted

He further stated that Giftland is funding the full cost to repair the turbocharger.

“Although it wasn’t our fault, the contract that we have doesn’t bind GPL to any liabilities. So, any incidents like that – a damage to our equipment – we’re liable for it,” he added.

Giftland started to supply the GPL grid with electricity in October 2020. It has a system that produces 6.7 megawatts of electricity, 5 megawatts of which is HFO [heavy fuel oil] fuelled. However, it only uses 1.6 megawatts during prime operations at the Mall.

As such, Government tapped into the excess power supply to boost the capacity of the GPL grid, which currently has a generating capacity of 155 megawatts.

Beepat, when asked, could not say how much power Giftland had supplied to the grid since it started to supply electricity in October to December before the system went down.

As it is, GPL only takes power from Giftland’s supply according to what it needs. But the Giftland Chairman is confident that once its system is back up, its supply of power to the GPL grid would increase given the massive transformation Guyana’s economy is embarking on.

“We have an expanding economy and an increased demand of power, and we also have very old and aged equipment. In April, we expect the new Wartsila will come online and that’s 45 megawatts. However, with the growth and demand, that may not be enough especially when you consider we’re using some engines that are 30 to 50 years old.”

“Those engines as they come offline, they will create more demand within the space. The Government has prorated us in order of priority, and that’s done by order of the economy and economics of it… So, if our cost to the grid is 11 cents per kilowatt-hour and using the caterpillar costs 22 cents then if they need power, they told me that they would use our 11 cents instead of their 22 cents. We have to believe that to be true so if the demand for power is there, and they need a cheaper source than what they have then they would give us the contract to supply. But it is very much according to costs and needs,” Beepat outlined.

According to the agreement between Government and Giftland, an average of US$46,000 will be paid per month for power from Giftland. This would translate to some $9.9 million per month to Giftland while GPL will additionally be paying for fuel at around $25.6 million per month. In total, this would work out to approximately $35.5 million per month.

Meanwhile, Government is constructing a US$50 million power plant at Garden of Eden on the East Bank of Demerara, that will house the five Wartsila generators to add some 46.5MW power to the grid.

During a recent appearance on NCN’s “Budget in Focus”, Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips explained that GPL’s main issue is not power generation but the transmission and distribution system, which is undergoing daily repairs.

In presenting the 2021 national budget over a week ago, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh disclosed that electricity supply is estimated to have grown in 2020 by 1.2 per cent.

With this figure slated to further increase this year, Government is pushing to expand its energy supply to Guyanese across the country with more reliable electricity at an affordable cost.

To this end, Government is embarking on piping gas to shore to meet the growing demand for electricity. Conceptualised as a 210-kilometre pipeline to transport natural gas from offshore Guyana, the gas to power project will be the trailblazer to advance Guyana’s path to domestic energy security within the next three years.