President defends decision to secure services of “power supply ship” to ease blackout woes

President defends decision to secure services of “power supply ship” to ease blackout woes

Days after he announced that the Government, through the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL), had signed a two-year agreement with UCC Holdings of Qatar for the supply of 36 megawatts of power using a power ship, President Ali today said GPL should answer questions related to the cost of having the power ship in Guyana.

“I think that the details of the cost and so, GPL would have those details,” President Ali said. 

The power-ship, which is expected to arrive in Guyana within three weeks, is intended to offer critical support to the GPL, which is currently experiencing significant challenges, due to its inability to meet the current demand for electricity. 

The severe shortfall in electricity has resulted in blackouts being experienced almost daily in areas across Demerara and Berbice.

President Ali is adamant that the power-ship will provide much needed relief to those affected by the current spate of power outages. However, concerns are being raised about whether it is economically feasible for the country to charter the power-ship for a period of two years, instead of procuring additional generating sets as a permanent remedy.

The President said procuring the services of the power supply ship is a feasible decision, and one that the Government stands firmly behind.

“There are very few companies that give you this power in 15 days. We have been able to get this power in 15 days. I congratulate all those who helped us to get here. Of course it is feasible. I am saying to you of course it is feasible. We have a need now. We have a need,” the President said. 

Opposition Member of Parliament, David Patterson, has warned that the use of the power-ship as a temporary fix to the electricity crisis facing the country, would not be feasible and could saddle the country with a multi-million US dollar bill.

But the President maintains that the move to acquire the emergency power, covering a two-year period, is necessary because GPL currently lacks the capacity to meet the current demand for electricity.

“We said that there are a number of problems, one of it, is capacity. The exponential growth and the lack of capacity. How do you get capacity, you have to buy capacity. You can’t wish that capacity will come and the problem will solve, you have to buy capacity,” he said. 

While making the announcement last Friday, the President indicated that the power-ship would be chartered for a period of 24 months from the date of commencement of the agreement. According to him, the agreement covers the cost to charter the vessel, including its generating engines, as well as operations and maintenance costs.

He then admitted that while the power ship will see the injection of 36 megawatts of power into the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS), the country would still be in need of an additional 60 megawatts of power to meet the growing demand for power.

Just in December, 17 reconditioned generating sets were purchased by the Government at a cost of US$27 million. The power problems have continued although most of the generating sets have been added to the national grid.

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