GPL admits it cannot purchase outside power

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…licence has to be amended

The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Incorporated on Sunday said it is unable to purchase power from any private company due to its existing licence, which it plans to amend.

In a notice published in one of the daily newspapers, the company explained that its licence restricts it from purchasing power from any producer other than independent power producers (IPP) which produce electricity from renewable energy sources.

Further, GPL said, “IPP, as defined under the Act, does not include businesses whose main business is not the generation of power, and which supply no more than 10 MW”.

The company added that it is aware that persons are interested in supplying their excess generation capacity to GPL’s grid, and Government is willing to enter an agreement in this regard, but the existing licence remains a barrier.

“The Government and GPL are desirous of facilitating distributed generation in a manner that is consistent with GPL’s generation and expansion plans, and with the country’s Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) which recommends the opportunity for consumers, small- and large-scale businesses to supply their excess generation to public suppliers,” GPL said in the notice.

Against this backdrop, the power company said, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson has proposed an amendment to Section 15 of GPL’s Licence, which will allow the company to purchase the excess generation capacity of its consumers, self-generators and other businesses, where feasible and consistent with the company’s generation requirements for interconnection to its grid.

The notice added that the public may make “representations and or objections” to the proposal by submitting their views to the Minister no later than October 6, 2019.

This revelation comes at a time when two major private companies, namely Banks DIH Limited and Giftland Mall, have expressed interest in supplying power to the embattled state agency. The two entities are powering their own operations using heavy fuel oil, and each has substantial capacity in this regard.

In fact, only last month, proprietor of Giftland Mall, Roy Beepat, in a statement to the media, voiced concerns over GPL’s unwillingness to accept the Giftland offer to supply it with electricity. His statement came two months after making his interest known in this regard.

At that time, the businessman had pointed out that Giftland had been receiving numerous complaints and questions as to why there are still occasional power outages. He noted that, a few months ago, persons who thought the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) was about to be signed with GPL had also been congratulating Giftland.

Giftland have also insisted that, contrary to reports, they can supply the required power at whatever time slots are required.

“We stand by our statement that a dedicated 3MW is available, and we can supply up to 4.5MW as required. We are not sure what further justification is required to show why this can withstand any scrutiny. Our prices are competitive and better than power supplied by GPL diesel generators. The supply is available without any expenditure to GPL (and) without commitment for long-term supplies. We look forward to some response as to why this Agreement cannot be concluded,” the company had said.

The Government’s Department of Public Information (DPI) had reported in June of this year that GPL and Giftland had concluded a Power Purchase Agreement for the supply of five megawatts of power, and that all that was being awaited was ratification of this agreement by the new GPL Board.

Giftland Mall had, since 2016, offered to sell Government its excess electricity, but this was rejected. At a press conference in June, GPL CEO Albert Gordon had explained that buying power from an independent power producer (IPP) is a complicated issue which includes negotiating pricing and legal matters.

But, more recently, the issue of GPL purchasing power has become more important with two of its submarine cables sustaining damage by vessels.

One of the cables has already been restored, and the subject minister has promised that the second damaged cable would be repaired soon.