Number one New Year's resolution To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
January 3, 2002

SUCCESSIVE governments and political leaders have, for so long now, recognised that the supply of cheap and reliable electricity generated by hydropower plants is crucial to the accelerated economic growth and development of Guyana.

Yet, in recent times, very little has been said or done about it.

Hydropower plants simply capture the energy of falling water to generate electricity. The plant itself comprises mainly of generators and water turbines resembling giant windmills.

The force of the falling water pushing against the turbine's blades causes the turbine to spin which in turn causes the generator to spin, thereby converting the different energies into electricity, which is then carried by transmission or power lines into residential homes, businesses and factories.

There is no gas, no diesel, no oil or other fuel - just water, which is so plentiful in this country.

Of course, there are technical considerations such as harnessing a waterfall, access roads, and building the infrastructure to store enough water so as to ensure that the turbines are powered non stop throughout the year, irrespective or rainfall or drought. But these details we leave to the paid experts.

What hydropower means to the people is cheap electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1/6th the cost. It means more money to spend on consumer items.

It means street and road lights all night to reduce the risk to life and liberty. It means night transportation and late opening of shops and other businesses to facilitate workers.

It means power tools for artisans and industry. It means people can either work more hours or go home and do something productive. It means less water shortages because of blackouts.

It encourages people to move away from the traditional scarce coastal jobs and settle along the access roads and develop the abundant virgin lands. The reservoir of water can be tied to irrigation and water supply, but more importantly, it will create an inland fishing industry as happened in other countries such as Indonesia and China.

The access roads will later be continued into the heartland allowing us to exploit our natural resources.

And it will certainly be a big boost to eco-tourism. The list goes on and on.

Hydropower, in essence, seems to be the answer to our social and economic dilemma.

It is therefore, absolutely imperative that the government not only take direct control of this project, but also put all its energies into its immediate implementation. It is too important to leave to private investors.

Financing may seem to be a problem but this administration has already demonstrated its ability to obtain soft term loans and grants by working the international donor community.

To pay back, we have the money saved from the oil bill, the money to be generated from the sale of electricity, and money through government subsidy, made possible by increased revenue collection as a result of increased economic activities.

Guyana may be short on a lot of things, but certainly not smart academics and resourceful politicians.

It is imperative that we harness our respective expertise and energies and make hydropower our number one New Year's resolution.

Our peace, prosperity and happiness depend on it.
Happy New Year.