Rationing of power to start today
Eight-hour blackout schedule in place
By Gitanjali Singh
March 8, 2003
Consumers in the Demerara-interconnected system will from today experience scheduled eight-hour blackouts and GPL yesterday informed the government it might not have money to buy any fuel in 10 days.
The eight-hour blackout schedule was announced yesterday and communities would be able to identify their areas from the Guyana Power and Light’s (GPL) notices in today’s newspapers. The outage is being rotated among different areas daily in periods from midnight to 8 am, 8 am to 4 pm and 4 pm to midnight.
General Manager of the cash-strapped power company, John Lynn told Stabroek News yesterday that, “If we have no money to buy fuel in 10 or 11 days, we will have to shut down all generation until funds and fuel become available.”
The overseas investors in GPL and the government have been locked in discussions on how to salvage the investment deal which created GPL. The overseas investors say that insufficient cash is being generated from the operations to cover expenses and they want various changes to the deal and a cap on any penalty levied against GPL by the Public Utilities Commission.
Lynn said because of insufficient cash flow, fuel purchases this week were 30% less and hence adequate supplies of electricity could not be generated from today to meet demand. Supply was already under pressure as a result of the Kingston steam plant being taken out of service to conserve on fuel two weeks ago. This plant was a buffer in the system catering for hitches in the generation system.
Asked how long the situation would last, Lynn said the government had been informed that it was likely to get worse as the company did not know how much money it would collect to make another purchase in 10 days time.
“We are not confident we would have sufficient money to buy any fuel in 11 days time.”
Whilst the company is operating at similar cash flow levels as last year, just under $1B per month, its costs including wages, fuel and insurance have gone up. Lynn also said within the next two weeks the company has to find US$500,000 to pay insurance premiums. He said the firm has been cutting back on every expense it could, including the purchases of spares.
Cabinet was yesterday reported to be discussing the fuel situation as well as the firm’s future. Prime Minister Sam Hinds could not be contacted up to press time last evening.
The Private Sector Commission two days ago said it was the government’s responsibility to ensure a reliable and adequate supply of power to Guyanese.
The cash flow difficulties at GPL surfaced as a result of its failure to implement interim tariff increases, which have been blocked by a court order. The problem is expected to continue unless there is an injection of cash into the operations.