Amid rising blackouts and increased consumption, GPL has procured 17 reconditioned containerised generator sets from the Dominican Republic which will produce 28.9 Megawatts (MW) of power and they will be installed in time for Christmas.
The decision by the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) will add to questions about why it continues to purchase heavy fuel oil equipment instead of concentrating on renewable sources of energy. Questions are also likely to be raised about the procurement process and why it was opting for reconditioned sets.
The peak demand is usually experienced during the Christmas holidays.
The cost of the units, expected to be installed and ready for operations by December 15, is US$27 million, with the cost of installation included in the amount paid.
"We have procured 17 units at 1.7 Megs each which would be a total of 28.9 megawatts. They are going to be able installed and ready to use by December 15th this year. They are going to be located at Plantation Columbia where we are currently developing the site for these units to be operated," GPL Executive, and Management Committee member, Kesh Nandlall, told the Sunday Stabroek when contacted on Friday.
Prime Minister Mark Phillips had asked that Nandlall speak on the issue as he had at hand, most of the details this newspaper sought.
The Columbia station is in the Mahaica /Mahaicony area and the generators will feed into the Demerara/Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS).
Nandlall explained that the generators were of the Hyundai brand and are "very mobile units".
Putting their use into context, he explained that they were "17 containerised units which we can also use at other locations, given they are easily moveable, as backup generation, should the need be. For now, they are going to be stationed at Plantation Columbia."
Questioned about the rationale for purchasing reconditioned units instead of new ones, and if the company was getting value for money, Nandlall said that the decision to buy the units was a sound one as an assessment was done prior to the purchase.
"We did the assessment and they are value for money, in terms of or as compared to us purchasing new ones," he explained while pointing out that new generators have more than doubled in cost.
Asked about the procurement process in purchasing the machines, he replied that there was a public tender either late last year or early this year and the procurement was done according to the rules.
This newspaper however, did not find the specified tender on the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board's website but on GPL's website, the project reference number is mentioned.
The GPL Development and Expansion Programme 2023-2027 refers to an advertised EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) for a 25MW of HFO (heavy fuel oil) fired plants to be installed at either Canefield or Columbia this year. This is in addition to a 25 MW generator to be installed at Columbia.
Additionally, in the same month, GPL advertised for the supply of a total of 25 MW HFO-fired firm power generating capacity through a power purchase agreement over a 3-years period at Canefield. The request was for a barge or a land-based power plant to be interconnected with the Canefield Substation at the 69 kV voltage level.
"This additional 25 MW at Canefield would assist GPL in achieving its LOLP [loss of load probability] target," the company says.
In addition to the 25 MW HFO-fired firm power generating capacity through a power purchase agreement over a 3-year period at Canefield, the advertisement also carried a similar request for New Sophia or Columbia to further assist GPL with achieving its LOLP target.
For New Sophia, only the interconnection of a barge can be accommodated. At Columbia, only a land-based power plant can be accommodated. In both cases, the point of interconnection is also expected to be at the 69 kV voltage level.
The decision to acquire additional megawatts came from findings from an assessment by the company which said "Generation reserves will be violated from 2023 and onwards, becoming negative from 2024. A negative system reserve indicates that demand is greater than generation which leads to a generation shortfall."
"The Loss of Load Probability (LOLP) will be severely violated from year 2023 and onwards. This means that almost every day of year 2024 and onwards there will be blackouts unless more generation is added…," it adds.
The company also plans to connect approximately 43,017 new consumers to the grid for the period of the D&E 2023 to 2027. "This growth in new services recognizes the continued expansion of the housing sector, resulting from the allocation of land by the Government of Guyana for housing and the expansion of existing structures into multi-storey premises," GPL states.
"Potential consumers will be encouraged through faster service requests timings, which will allow for them to establish electricity accounts and desist from invitations to acquire electricity through illegal arrangements," it adds.
In March of this year, Prime Minister Phillips had announced that in preparation for the 300-megawatt (MW) Wales gas-to-shore power plant's late 2024 completion, government has commenced plans to upgrade the GPL's distribution grid and is awaiting evaluation of tenders for the installation of new electricity lines and substations.
"We are moving to modernise the grid, to install the new transmission lines and substations for the integration…," the Office of the Prime Minister said in response to questions from the Stabroek News. "The tender is already out for that [the lines' transmission upgrade]… We are also doing a study… by the time the gas-to-shore project is completed the grid will be upgraded and ready to receive that [power]", he said.
Technical issues continue to plague GPL's DBIS which serves about 90 per cent of the country's coastline where the majority of the 750,000 population lives. There are periodic power outages or shutdowns.
On Thursday, GPL informed that its assessment over the past week shows that there has been an increase in power usage and attributed it to the record high temperatures over the past few weeks.
"We think the increase is mostly due to the extremely hot weather of recent…," Nandlall said as he explained that it would mean more persons using electricity-powered cooling devices and machines.