With over 100 power outages recorded by the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) for 2021, the utility company has informed the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for the maintenance shortfalls.
This was revealed following a hearing that was held by the PUC on March 29, which reviewed GPL’s Operating Standards and Performance Targets for last year and then published a report outlining the findings.
Eight standards and targets were reviewed, including customer interruptions, voltage regulation, meter reading, issuing of bills, accounts payable, accounts receivable, system losses, and average availability.
According to the report, consumers experienced an average of 103 power outages for 2021, when the maximum number of outages consumers should experience on average, according to the standard, is 90.
“The standard was therefore not met. The company in their presentation noted that the outages were as a result of feeder and transmission line trips and increased planned maintenance in 2021,” the report stated.
“The company proffered that the COVID-19 pandemic hampered its usual schedule of maintenance in 2020 and the increase in planned maintenance activities was the direct result of that increase to 103 outages for the year 2021,” PUC added.
The PUC took care to explain the protocol for dealing with these lapses. For instance, it was explained that “the Commission is tasked with the responsibility to determine whether GPL has failed to achieve the standards and targets set. Should there be a failure to realise any of the standards, the Commission is empowered to impose a monetary penalty on the company in an amount not to exceed 25 per cent of the total value of dividends which is payable to the company’s shareholders in the calendar year under consideration”.
It was noted that consideration for the impact the company’s failure to reach its targets has on consumers, determines whether any penalty will be levied on the company. However, it was revealed in the report that PUC decided not to impose any penalties.
“In arriving at its decision, the Commission is cognisant that the imposition of penalties is often a measure of last resort for egregious events and not to be applied lightly. Therefore, the Commission after careful review of the targets achieved and GPL’s projections for improved service has determined that no penalty is warranted for GPL’s 2021 performance.”
“The Commission commends the company on its achievement of most of its standards for the reporting year 2021. The Commission takes this opportunity to recognise the company’s continuous stride in the reduction of system losses, which loss poses an enormous financial burden to the company,” PUC also said.
Among those who appeared for GPL were Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bharat Dindyal and Deputy CEO, Support Services, Renford Homer. They appeared before PUC Chairman Dela Britton and Commissioners Verlyn Klass, Dr Leyland Lucas and Dr Nanda Gopaul. Guyana Consumers Association President Patrick Dial and advisor Dr Yog Mahadeo were also present.