The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Inc is seeking US$110 million to assist with a strategic plan to overhaul the entire operation, as well as upgrade and reconfigure the supply system to produce better electricity with a view of putting an end to the constant blackouts.
This is according to the newly-appointed Jamaican Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GPL, Albert Gordon, who said that he has already made the proposal to Government.
Speaking on Wednesday at a cocktail reception at Pegasus Hotel, Gordon said that there were several deficiencies that he discovered while on his familiarisation trip to almost all the GPL facilities across the country.
“That is the biggest challenge now, keeping the lights on and as I have mentioned in a different forum, there are different contributors to that. Not the least of which is the existing infrastructure and configuration of the system. The GPL system is evolving from a bunch of smaller systems that are being integrated and right now, there are serious deficiencies in the system that we need to address,” he said.
The CEO explained that in a normal case where a distribution line takes power to someone’s house, in several instances they are connected directly to the generator. But he said this is not how a power system is configured.
“You generate, increase the voltage to some high-voltage lines, move it to a substation, reduce the voltage and then distribute to customers. That way the generator is shielded from events that may happen on the distribution lines that run along the road. Right now, that is not the case for a number of substations.”
Gordon said in the case of the Kingston substation, there are a number of lines leaving that station. “If there is a fault on any one of those lines, and they are long distribution lines along the road, if a tree falls on it, it feeds all the way back to the generator, takes out those generators. The other generators that are there to protect itself goes off, and the system goes down. So, that’s one major deficiency in the system.”
Another deficiency, the CEO pointed out, is the fact that there is not a lot of ‘redundancy’. “Normally when you are designing a power system, if any major piece of equipment should fail, the customer should not know, because there is a backup piece of equipment to ensure that power is still reaching customers.
“However, that is not the case. In fact, the transmission system is supposed to keep the rest of the system stable.” According to him, there are a number of lines leaving Sophia, which leads to other substations like Good Hope, Skeldon, and Kingston, which he described as spurs coming off a star system.
He said, “There is a lot of immediate action that is needed to address the problems…Aside from that, about 50 megawatts of the generating capacity, which is just over 130 megawatts is very old and in need of replacement. So, they fail very regularly. We need to change that and many other things we have to do.”
Meanwhile, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson also announced plans to assist the company in its quest to improve its services and possibly loan the entity the required sum that is needed to assist with the strategic plans to bring some level of normalcy to the supply of electricity in Guyana.