Power company making contingency plans for Christmas power demand

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Guyanese were on Sunday inundated with simultaneous power outages, driving many to social media to vent. And while the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) is making every effort to ensure a blackout-free Christmas, there is no guarantee against power outages if equipment goes down, as was the case on Sunday.

This is according to GPL Chief Executive Officer Albert Gordon. In an interview with Inews, he noted that it is hard to rule out the possibility of outages when pieces of equipment go down. However, he was confident that their medium to long term plans would adequately address the power outages.

“But our medium-term plans address that. But based on what we’ve done so far, widespread outages can be avoided. We still have a few issues that pop up here and there, but most persons were brought back (on power grid).”

“As you know, our issues relate to inadequate generating capacity. And so, as you know also, we have plans to improve capacity. In the short term, we’re kicking in our emergency capacity before Christmas. But we also have the significant increase in baseload capacity in the form of the 46 to 45 megawatts at Garden of Eden coming online by April next year.”

“That will make a significant dent in the shortfall in the generating capacity. And then we are doing some work on the grid system… and we have some other short-term plans that will be implemented before Christmas.”

According to Gordon, the Power Purchase Agreement that GPL has with the Giftland Mall is one of their short-term options currently in use, but he cautioned that with the current levels of power offered, it is not enough.

“They have been contributing to the supply of the grid already, because they can go to a maximum of five megawatts. And we do need a significant amount of additional capacity. But it adds to the supply, but it’s not sufficient.”

On Sunday, GPL acknowledged power outages experienced by customers connected to the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS). For instance, GPL noted that persons in Regions Four, Five and Six experienced power outages due to a partial shutdown of the system. According to GPL, two of their power plants in Kingston went down.

The power company also noted the power outages suffered by customers in the environs of Houston to Nandy Park on the East Bank of Demerara. This time, the service interruption was attributed to a line fault. In all of its notices, GPL assured that it was working assiduously to fix the problem and return normalcy.

Earlier this month, five generators expected to be operationalised by April next year had arrived in Guyana for the new Garden of Eden dual firepower plant on the East Bank of Demerara – which is currently under construction by Finnish company, Wartsila.

The Government has been working to build the Guyana Power and Light’s capacity to generate power using renewable energy (natural gas), with the ongoing construction of the 46.5-megawatt power plant.

The entire set for the plant is pegged at $10 billion. This is an additional cost to the plant, which has a price tag of US$50 million. When completed and commissioned, the engines will be capable of using both heavy fuel oil (HFO) and the natural gas being piped in from offshore Guyana.

Government is currently purchasing power from the Giftland Mall in order to satisfy the current demand until the plant is operationalised. According to information received, 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. In addition, GPL will be paying for fuel at around $25.6 million per month. In total, this would work out to approximately $35.5 million per month.

The Giftland Mall currently 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.