96 GPL power outages occurred in 2023 – PUC hears

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
GPL sub-station at Garden of Eden, EBD

The management of Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Inc made an appearance before the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on Thursday, and reported that 96 countrywide power outages were recorded in 2023.

This number is higher than that recorded in 2022, which saw a reduction in the frequency of power outages by roughly 10 per cent.

The interruptions were due to a number of reasons ranging from planned maintenance to emergencies. The prolonged dry season contributed significantly to the demand for energy in November and December 2023 and hence, demand outstripping supply in several instances.

The company was able to grow its generation capacity by 14.5 per cent in 2023; however, the peak demand for power increased by 21.4 per cent.GPL’s Divisional Director for Loss Reduction, Parsram Persaud disclosed that the agency’s Smart Grid pilot project at Good Hope, East Coast Demerara (ECD) was yielding results that may see an increase in power for households and commercial entities.

GPL Divisional Director for Loss Reduction, Parsram Persaud

The Good Hope F2 Feeder is one of the heavily loaded and long circuits across GPL’s network at the Good Hope Sub-Station.

He notes that GPL was monitoring the feeder and based on its performance, the project would be implemented in other communities.

“Our intention is to look at the others that’s coming in from their sub-station – the length and through certain areas that are very far from the sub-station. Alongside that, too, we are looking at the data that is coming in from complaints where people are complaining about low voltage situations.“It’s the first stage in smart metering and we’re building the infrastructure piece by piece… over the next five years, we expect to update those meters to two hundred and something thousand as the customer base grow,” Persaud explained.

This project is currently in phrase one, and phrase two will be undertaken in 2026.The goal of this pilot project is to show how the Itron bridge type meters can be used for voltage monitoring and drive corrective work required to ensure that the voltage being provided to customers are within the voltage regulation standard.

“We will continue to report on the particular circuit that we use as a pilot and other circuits that are coming out of other sub-stations. We will also share with the PUC the ranging of these feeders in terms of load and in terms of customers,” Persaud added.

2023 energy demand

A deluge of massive infrastructural projects and building programmes in Guyana has resulted in huge demand for energy, which, authorities say, will continue to increase.

Additionally, one of the biggest components of higher electricity demand would be self-generating companies that had switched to the GPL grid.Those companies have realised that it is more cost-effective to use the GPL grid system, since the Guyana Government is subsidising the utility company to prevent any increased costs from passing onto consumers.

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo had also highlighted the expansion of various industries as another major contributor to increasing energy demand. He noted, for example, that there were seven hotels under construction and four more that could potentially come on stream. He said those entities alone would need about 15 megawatts of power.

As a result, GPL announced in September 2023, that the company had reached a historic peak in electricity demand recorded at an unprecedented 182 megawatts.

While several steps are currently being taken in the interim to ensure that there was sufficient capacity, VP Jagdeo said that the Government hoped to definitively fix the issue with the gas-to-power plant, which is expected to come on stream.