Power company promises Berbicians bright Christmas
By Daniel Da Costa
December 13, 2002
The Guyana Power and Light Inc. is promising Berbicians in both East and West Berbice a bright Christmas although its troublesome Number 3, 5.3-megawatt Mirrlees Blackstone generating set is out of commission and is not likely to return to service shortly. The set, which is one of two stationed at the company’s Canefield plant, was pulled out of the system a few months ago after the alternator again developed problems.
During a media tour last month, the company’s chief executive officer, John Lynn was quoted as acknowledging that Berbice had suffered from poor service over the years. GPL, he said, was however committed to changing this.
However, a source at the company’s Canefield plant told Stabroek News that systems have been put in place to ensure that East and West Berbicians receive a reliable and stable supply of electricity during the upcoming Christmas season.
According to the source three mobile Caterpillar sets which generate 1.5 megawatts of power each and the Number 4 Mirrlees Blackstone set which generates approximately 5 megawatts are in operation at Canefield. Two mobile Caterpillar sets with a capacity of 1.5 megawatts each are in operation at the company’s No. 53 Village sub-station.
And at the Onverwagt Power Station on the West Coast of Berbice two 1.5-megawatt Caterpillar sets are in operation while the 2.5- megawatt General Motors set which was undergoing repairs is expected to return to service this week.
The peak demand in East and West Berbice during the upcoming Christmas season is expected to be around 15 megawatts. At the moment, according to the source, the company is producing approximately 17 megawatts of power from its three locations, enough to satisfy the projected increased demand over the holiday season.
Last month Lynn told reporters that “the problem in Berbice was a result of one of the main sets being down and a study revealed that it will take several months to fix”. Since the Number 3 unit was pulled out of service approximately four months ago consumers on both sides of the river have experienced regular outages as the company was forced to load-shed to compensate for generation shortfall.
However there has been a marked improvement in the supply over the past two weeks with fewer outages caused by generation shortfall, but scheduled disruptions are continuing during the day in some areas to facilitate line maintenance activities.
These include the planting of primary poles and the transfer of high voltage conductors.
Some observers have also expressed concern over the ability of the high-speed mobile Caterpillar sets to endure the rigorous demands of a 24-hour schedule on a daily basis, particularly during the upcoming holiday season when demand is expected to rise significantly. There is also disquiet over the strain being placed on the No. 4 unit at Canefield in the absence of its sister set, the No. 3 unit.
The No. 3 set was re-commissioned in December 2002 at Canefield after a lengthy and expensive rehabilitation of its 24-tonne alternator in the United Kingdom.
The alternator for the set suffered a mechanical failure in February 1997 and was sent to the United Kingdom in December 1999 for repairs and rehabilitation.
In September 2000 it was re-commissioned after the repairs were completed at a cost of some $55 million.
Lynn’s predecessor, Noel Hatch had spoken then about “the importance of the 69 KV inter-connected line between Sophia and Onverwagt by 2002 and the likely provision of additional generation from Guysuco by 2004 at Skeldon.” He said also “another plan on the horizon for the Company is the installation of a third generator at Canefield by 2005.
This decision would be taken by the Company in 2003.”