Power company does not have funds now for Berbice expansion
- Hatch

By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
January 21, 2000

Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) boss, Noel Hatch says he is not happy with level of service being provided to Berbicians by the company and decisions are due this year on improved power supply to the Ancient County.

Hatch told members of the Berbice Chamber of Commerce and Development Association (BCC&DA) yesterday that he expected the board of directors of the company to make technical and financial decisions sometime this year to better the supply of electricity to Berbice.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was responding to a question from the Chamber's president, Mohamed Raffik during a reconvened meeting between the two parties to discuss the electricity situation in the region.

Responding to enquiries from members of the Chamber the CEO reiterated two earlier stated options being explored to improve the service offered by the company to Berbicians. They are for GPL to increase generation capacity or for a private supplier to offer GPL additional supply and to connect the Demerara and Berbice systems. Pressed for further details, Hatch explained "If a decision was taken today it would take approximately 18 months to complete a 50-mile long 69 KVA line from Sophia to Onverwagt at a cost of between US$8 million to US$10 million. On the other hand it would take about two years to procure and install a new five-megawatt generator at Canefield at an approximate cost of US$5 million to US$6 million."

Hatch stated that GPL did not have the funds to buy a new generator or to construct the 69 KVA line to Onverwagt.

"The best thing to do therefore is to try and convince the lending institutions that the company is financially sustainable and that the project is viable," he said. Funding, he disclosed, will be sought not only for Berbice, but for other improvements throughout the system.

Raffik, in his opening remarks, had asked Hatch to provide information on the short-, medium- and long-term plans of the company to ensure a stable and reliable supply of power to Berbicians. The Chamber head said his organisation will be looking at the company's plans for improvement and its efforts to meet the great expectations of Berbicians in the near future.

In his opening remarks the CEO apologised to members of the Chamber for the late arrival of his team for a meeting scheduled for January 6th, which resulted in the engagement being aborted. He also apologised to Berbicians for the recent disruption and inconvenience suffered as a result of mechanical problems encountered by the Number Four unit at Canefield.

Declaring that he is not satisfied with the level of service being offered by the company to Berbicians, Hatch explained that the risk of a recurrence of what transpired earlier this month was still there. "This is due to the fact that the Number Three unit is still out of operation." The recommissioning of the Number Four unit, he said, would, however, reduce this risk.

Responding to a question from the floor the CEO said he "could not guarantee a vast improvement in the present situation from what it has been. The best you can do is to pay your electricity bills regularly which would assist the company in improving its service."

Concurring with opinions expressed by some members, Hatch noted that the demand for electricity was continuing to grow and was likely to move closer to the company's maximum capacity of 16 megawatts. This will put pressure on the system and will demand more generation.

According to the CEO, the company will generate 16 megawatts of electricity when the Number Three unit is recommissioned in May. The present demand is around 12 megawatts. At the moment the company is producing around nine megawatts in East Berbice and about two megawatts from Onverwagt.

"We are trying to accelerate the improvement of the system by getting the Number Three unit back in service. This is the key to avoiding a recurrence of what happened on January 1," he said. The CEO told the meeting that the company will urge the suppliers in the United Kingdom to advance the return date of the 30-tonne alternator for the unit. "There is nothing more we can do than urge them to speed up the return of the alternator."

Asked by Stabroek News about President Bharrat Jagdeo's comment on his (Hatch's) statement that it would not be viable to procure another generator for Canefield at this time, the CEO said he did not want to engage the President in a public debate, but the concerns raised were likely to be discussed at the next board meeting of the company.

A © page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples