The Guyana Power and Light Company is pleading with its customers to be understanding as the company rushes to get repairs done to its submarine cable system, which has developed a fault.
The company announced today that the contractors to effect the repairs are already on the ground and divers have already started to check the cable to identify the direct area of the fault.
It is suspected that the cable might have been damaged by marine traffic which traverses the Demerara river, where the cable sits on the bed of the river linking GPL’s operations at Kingston and Vreed-en-hoop.
The damage to the underwater cable has resulted in the company facing a shortfall in the power supply for the Demerara-Berbice Interconnection system.
GPL’s Divisional Director for Operations, Bharrat Harjohn, explained to reporters this morning that the Vreed-en-hoop substation provides about 26 megawatts of power in total, with the west side using up about 12 megawatts, while the remaining 14 megawatts is distributed to the eastern side.
“As of now, on the East Demerara side, we have about 90 mega-watts of power available to us and we have to satisfy a demand of 100 mega-watts, so there is a shortfall of about 10 megawatts. With that shortfall we have introduced some load shedding activities and we have the schedule being done on a daily basis”, Mr. Harjohn said.
The Power Company issued notices this morning about the load shedding schedule that will see some communities being affected by load shedding for more than six hours on specific days.
The Power Company is looking at a number of alternative systems to minimize the impact of the problems that it is facing with its submarine cables.
GPL’s Divisional Director for Projects Ryan Ross explained at the company’s press conference this morning that this is not the first time that the submarine cable has been damaged.
Repairs to the damaged cables could carry a cost of up to US$15 Million.
Mr. Ross said that as the company is examining arrangements that would mitigate the power supply problems to its customers. Among the arrangements being examined is one that would see GPL buying power from independent power producers and adding that power to the national grid.
“We are looking to engage private companies/entities to purchase power. I am sure that this is public knowledge that there are entities that have indicated to GPL that they can supply us with power, so we are essentially looking to get into power purchase agreements but there are some legal issues, but we are exploring that possibility to have them on the grid”, Ross said.
The Company’s Chief Executive Officer, Albert Gordon explained that there are just two companies that might be in a position to supply power to the national grid. Those two companies would be Banks DIH Limited and the Giftland Mall.
Mr. Gordon admitted that even with the possibility of adding the excess power from those companies to the national grid, there are other hurdles that would have to be overcome, including pricing, since the companies might be producing their power at a higher cost than GPL and would therefore want a higher price for any power that they would sell. Still, he said, the issue is being examined.
The CEO also noted that as the company works towards fixing the current problems being faced, there is no adequate backup system in place and that is a major hiccup for the company.
Mr. Gordon explained that “there are deficiencies in the system with respect to this particular situation but as I have we have been saying, there are widespread issues with the overall system, so the system at generation, distribution and transmission level, we don’t have adequate backup. The system is essentially operating without any backup facilities”.
The CEO said GPL is still in a process of restructuring since the company’s current structure remains ineffective and inefficient to ensure the company really moves forward.