Cheap, reliable electricity on horizon with AFHP
An artist’s impression of the Amaila Falls Hydropower facility
An artist’s impression of the Amaila Falls Hydropower facility

— says Dr. Singh

HAD the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project progressed as initially planned, cheaper and more reliable power would have already been enjoyed today, said Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh.

Appearing on a televised programme hosted by Travis Bruce on Friday evening, Minister Singh said that even though the merits of the project had long been established, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) spared no effort to kill the project.

Dr. Singh, in attempting to rationalise the Coalition’s grievances against the project, concluded that it might have been a situation which can be described by the saying of “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

“There is no other reason but to obstruct and frustrate this project… because they [the former Coalition Government] believed that it [the benefits of the project] will somehow redound to the credit of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic,” Dr. Singh surmised.

He went further to lament the fact that although tanking the ground-breaking project, the then David Granger-led government did nothing to propose an alternative of any sort. But even so, the APNU+AFC went ahead to make a global pledge that by 2025, Guyana will be using 100 per cent renewable energy.

Former President and current Vice-President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo recently criticised the former government for making international pledges without putting any realistic systems in place to achieve them.

With the Amaila Falls Hydropower project out of the way, the then government failed to institute other initiatives which could help enable Guyana to deliver on its pledge. As a result of the “unrealistic” and “unachievable” pledge, President Dr. Irfaan Ali was forced to return to the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, to admit to Guyana’s error, and recommit to 75 per cent renewable energy.

This, according to Minister Singh, will be achieved not only by way of the Amaila Falls project, but will see the establishment of several smaller-scale hydros and solar power projects. Moreover, with Guyana now an oil and natural gas producer, the government is gearing up to realise a landmark US$900 million gas-to-shore project, which will convert gas into power to be supplied to the national grid.

Dr. Singh said that his government is cognisant of the fact that expensive and unreliable power is not only a bugbear within homes and communities, but also a hindrance to investments as well.

As it is, the Irfaan Ali Cabinet has granted its ‘no-objection’ for the Office of the Prime Minister to engage the China Railway Group Limited to construct the Amaila Falls Hydropower Station (AFHP) based on a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model.

Under this model, the company will supply electricity to the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Inc. at a cost not exceeding US$0.07737 per KWH.

The AFHP was first identified in 1976 by the Canadian company “Monenco’ during an extensive survey of hydroelectric power potential in Guyana.

Various studies have since justified and strongly supported construction of the AFHP. Recognising the suitability and attractiveness of the project, the pre-2015 PPP/C Government had advanced preparation of AFHP by conducting extensive technical and financial studies of the project, including an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA).

The then PPP/C Government had also mobilised international investor interest in the project, and a major private international investor (the Blackstone Group) had expressed serious interest in undertaking it. Additionally, the then government had earmarked US$80 million earned by Guyana under the Guyana-Norway partnership within the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) to help finance equity in the project.

When the APNU+AFC assumed office in 2015, it retained a Norwegian company to conduct a further assessment; even that gave value to the AFHP, but could not save it from being killed. The government has expressed hope to have the power plant up and running by 2025.


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