GPL moves to prequalify contractors, financiers for upgrades to grid

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
The Guyana Power and Light Head Office on Main Street, Georgetown

In an effort to ensure that it has options for financing and doing upgrade works on the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS), the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) is now seeking to prequalify potential financiers and contractors.

According to the call for Expressions of Interest (EOI), companies, including consortiums, have been invited to indicate their interest. Among the projects the state-run company is looking to work on is to construct a total of 10.45km of 69kV lines across the Demerara and Berbice rivers.

Other works include the supply of two mobile substations, hotline maintenance, supply and installation of 30MW, and the upgrade and expansion of two existing 69/13.8kV substations. Additionally, the company is looking to prequalify a supplier of 20,000 Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters.

It had been announced earlier this year that GPL would be installing an additional 70,000 AMI meters this year to replace the old terminal meters. In 2023, almost 100,000 terminal meters were placed with AMI devices, and of that number, approximately 700 terminal devices were defective.

This had been revealed by GPL’s Divisional Director of Loss Reduction, Parsram Persaud, who made this disclosure while speaking at a Public Utilities Commission (PUC) meeting that was reviewing GPL’s 2023 Operating Standards and Performance Targets.

While GPL recorded a loss reduction of 25.5 per cent in 2023, Persaud had revealed that the agency recovered millions in losses by replacing defective meters. He said the programme ensures that citizens have reliable access to electricity, and addresses GPL’s loss reduction challenges.

Minimal requirements

Meanwhile, the document makes it clear that the call for EoIs is not an invitation to tender. They emphasised that only bidders deemed qualified at this stage will receive details on the next stage – Request for Bid (RFB).

Bidders will also be required to demonstrate a track record of successfully financing or completing similar projects in the last 10 years. They will also be required to demonstrate their ability to finance and complete the projects within a maximum timeline of two years after receiving the contract. The EoI must be submitted by June 20, 2024.

GPL has already approached Government with a proposal for ‘emergency priority funding’ to the tune of US$180 million to upgrade its distribution and transmission network. Already, the state-run power company has been allocated some $95.7 billion in the 2024 National Budget.

Last month, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo had announced that the Guyana Government would be seeking massive supplementary funding to upgrade GPL’s aged Distribution and Transmission Network.

“There is…a component running between US$180 million to maybe US$250 million that would lead to critical upgrades in the Distribution and Transmission System to ensure that once we have more power, that we take this power to Berbice and everywhere else, and that the poor transmission system and the weak distribution system wouldn’t affect us. So, then we [won’t] have more power but still have blackouts because of the weak transmission system,” he had stated.

This upgrade to the distribution and transmission network is just one component of the planned efforts to enhance the capability and capacity of the state-run power company. As it is, GPL is now generating some 165 megawatts of power, but the current peak demand for electricity is 180 megawatts.

Given the ongoing heightened frequency of power outages, Jagdeo had noted that the financial paper will be tabled in the National Assembly shortly, since the upgrades have to start “almost immediately.”

Only recently, GPL signed a two-year contract with Qatar-based Urbacon Concessions Investments (UCI) for a power ship to generate 36 megawatts (MWs) into the national grid.The floating power plant has since arrived in Guyana’s waters and works have been carried out to set up the infrastructure to connect the vessel to GPL’s distribution system at Everton on the East Bank of Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).

As part of the multimillion-dollar deal, GPL has already paid a US$1 million mobilisation fee for the power ship, which was previously used in Cuba. The power company has to pay a fee of 6.62US cents per kWh as a monthly charter fee for the vessel, as well as a monthly operation and maintenance fee of 0.98US cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) based on electricity generated.

GPL is also required to provide Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) for the operation of the generators onboard the vessel. In addition to the 35MW from the power ship, the capacity of the national grid will be further bolstered when the 300-MW power plant – a major component of the Gas-to-Energy Project – comes onstream next year, using natural gas from offshore oil production activities in the Stabroek Block.