Jagdeo differs with power company on Berbice woes
- one Canefield set being put back into service

Stabroek News
January 15, 2000

President Bharrat Jagdeo is unhappy with the power company's position that it cannot restore full power to Berbice until May because it will be uneconomical to bring in emergency sets.

He told reporters on Thursday that he has asked Prime Minister Sam Hinds to speak to the government directors on the board to articulate the government's position on the issue.

The Number Three and Number Four Mirrlees Blackstone generating sets at Canefield have been down and the latter was repaired on schedule yesterday. A release from Guyana Power and Light Inc said that the commissioning checks, which entail the gradual addition of load to the machine up to approximately half of its five-megawatt capacity, had begun.

"The areas to be energised will include the essential services, such as the hospitals, and the administrative and business sectors of Berbice," the statement said.

The Number Three set was sent to the UK and is expected back by the end of May. Problems with these two units have caused severe disruptions in the lives of Berbicians who have been plagued by constant blackouts. As of yesterday, essential services were expected to be back on stream.

GPL's Chief Executive Officer, Noel Hatch recently told reporters at a press conference in Berbice that it would take six weeks to ship emergency sets down from Miami but said because the company would have to keep these for six months, it was not economical to enter into an agreement to do so.

But the President at the media briefing on Thursday took issue with GPL's position, when asked about the decision of the PPP/Civic government to add 5,000 new consumers to the grid in Berbice without the requisite generation capacity to match this.

"I do not personally agree with some of the statements made by the general manager [Hatch] about Berbice returning to full power until May because it is uneconomical to bring in emergency sets," said the President.

And on the issue of the 5,000 new consumers, the President said that that decision was to give power to communities bypassed on previous occasions, while power lines ran in front of these communities. He argued that power can be supplied to these communities economically and the contract the government had with GPL was that once it was economical, it must be done.

Meanwhile, in the statement issued yesterday, GPL's regional manager, Ken Klass, said the Number Four unit will be run during the peak demand period under close scrutiny and based on the parameters that will become available, that set will be fine-tuned and brought up to full availability.

The release said that the Mirrlees Blackstone set was 22 years old and it failed after one of its bolts broke down on January 2, and had to be taken out of service. Immediately spares were ordered from the UK and these arrived on January 9 and the company's engineers and technicians were said to work round the clock to complete the repairs in time.

Meanwhile, repairs to another Mirrlees Blackstone unit at Bartica have been completed by a Guyanese company and that component is being returned to Bartica, the release said. The necessary spares to complete that rehabilitation have already been ordered and are being sent by courier to Guyana.

"It is anticipated that this set will be recommissioned next Thursday, 20th January and be fully available on the following day to return normality to the power supply at that end of Essequibo," said the statement.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples