By Svetlana Marshall
AN alternative source of energy can open “new doors of opportunities for the people of Bartica,” says Chairman of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) Interim Management Committee (IMC) Gifford Marshall.He was commenting on the Government’s decision to shift from the use of fossil fuel to renewable energy in the supply of electricity to the emerging town.
Currently, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure is soliciting competitive proposals from suitable firms, as an Independent Power Producer, to design and develop a generation system utilising appropriate renewable energy technology or combination of technologies, under a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) structure, to supply electricity to the Bartica grid under a negotiated and agreed Power Purchase Agreement.
Reducing dependency on fossil fuel Mr Marshall told Guyana Chronicle on Friday is critical for Bartica, in becoming the country’s first ‘green town’.
“If we are to effectively manage and sustain our environment by reducing pollutants in the atmosphere and even in our waters, we have to start by reducing our dependency on fossil fuel and seriously consider alternative sources of energy.
“So yes! The Government is indeed moving in the right direction,” Mr Marshall asserted.
The IMC Chairman said he is pleased that there are ongoing discussions on the possible establishment of solar farms, wind mills and hydro power plants in Bartica.
Optimistically, he said, when Bartica is powered by renewable energy the town will then work collectively to develop a ‘green tourism product’ that would generate further income for its people.
The IMC’s Vice Chairperson Kamal Persaud said the residents of Bartica would be better able to preserve their environment if there is a shift from fossil fuel to a renewable source of energy.
Beside the positive impact renewable energy would have on the environment, Mrs Persaud said it would open a window of opportunities in the town’s economy.
“A cheaper and reliable source of energy would definitely attract investors to Bartica,” she posited.
According to her, Bartica is an ideal place for the construction and operation of a recycling plant, citing one of the many projects that can be realised with cheaper electricity.
“It would also encourage the local people to venture into large scale production. We could add value to our products by packaging them, such as plantain chips,” she explained.
Former Region Seven Chairman Holbert Knights, who currently heads Bartica Independence Green Alliance (BIGA), said an alternative source of energy would mean much for the people of Bartica, noting that it would significantly reduce the cost for electricity.
It was pointed out that on an average residents pay between $8,000 and $10,000 for the supply of electricity on a monthly basis. However, Mr Knights said, for those operating in the commercial sector “it is much higher”.
“I am not sure if the alternative source of energy would be able to power an industrial site in Bartica or even the small welding shops, ice factories or the hotel industry that require an unusually large supply of power,” he said.
However, there is need for clarification on the areas that would be powered by alternative energy sources once the Power Purchase Agreement is signed.
Currently, Bartica is being powered by Guyana Power and Light but it has been a long and hard struggle to keep the lights on. For years, the power station has been encountering technical problems since most of the generators have “outlived” their time.
President David Granger during his visit to Bartica in June 2015 announced that the mining community would gain township status by April 23, 2016 in keeping with an ordinance made by the British Government some 178 years ago. It was during that visit, the President announced that Bartica would also become the country’s first ‘green town’.