APNU+AFC blasts gov’t over frequent power outages

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Below is a press statement from the APNU+AFC on the frequent blackouts:

All Guyanese will recall that between 2015 and 2020 blackouts were becoming a thing of the past because the APNU+AFC was implementing a proper plan for GPL having put in place a competent management team.

In November of 2021, Bharrat Jagdeo declared to the nation: “We have a problem now with the grid; we are doing the study so that by next year, we can have an overall improvement of the grid, so that… we don’t have all these blackouts.” 

Nearly one year has passed, and blackouts have become even more of a nightmare. Jagdeo lies again. Guyanese across the political spectrum are frustrated and enraged. Citizens have appropriately renamed GPL as GP-HELL.

Rather than admit failure, admit that they are struggling to maintain, much less advance the current grid, the PPP continues to try to blame the Coalition for GPL’s woes. 

They have been in office for 2 years, or 40% of a standard Presidential term, and are still blaming the coalition. They passed a budget nearly 50% larger than last year’s and are still blaming the Coalition. No one, not even the staunchest PPP supporter, takes them seriously anymore on this issue. 

We recognize that citizens do not merely want to hear political parties pass blame around. They want results. They deserve results. It is obvious to anyone paying even the slightest attention to the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS) that it is extremely vulnerable. 

In order to make the system more robust, the Coaliton Government had established a second cable between the Vreed-en-hoop and Kingston stations. We had plans to replicate this approach between the Vreed-en-Hoop and Garden of Eden stations and Sophia and Kingston stations. 

To boost reliability, the Coalition government not only replaced 87,717 service lines, but we also put in place plans to upgrade the lines serving the Garden of Eden station. Similarly, almost all the transmission lines, over 300km, were repaired or upgraded. 

In fact, 502 new transformers were installed, and 2,292 defective transformers were replaced. We could go on at length about the many hundreds of maintenance and upgrade activities we undertook, which substantially increased reliability because that was a key focus of our administration. 

Our point is simple: if a deliberate, competent effort to steadily increase the system’s reliability is not made, with a focus on redundancies and upgrades, blackouts will continue to plague us. Sadly, there is little hope for this under the PPP they have put back the same incompetent management it had pre-2015.

During the work week, every time there is a widespread blackout in the DBIS, at least two hundred thousand workers are affected. If this lasts for an hour, it costs the Guyanese economy at least G$80,000,000. 

Even where businesses have generators, this too costs the economy, because businesses must spend money on expensive backup systems which also produce electricity inefficiently.

There is no point in building new power plants, natural-gas fueled or otherwise if we cannot consistently deliver that electricity to consumers. While there is a need to bring down energy costs, if that energy cannot consistently meet the consumer it will serve little or no purpose.

Upgrading and maintaining the national grid must be treated with the same priority as building additional power stations. It is ironic that while the PPP flaunts billion-dollar electricity generation plans, it can’t get these basics right. Guyanese have lost patience with the PPP’s perpetual, tireless incompetence. These blackouts cannot be allowed to continue.

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