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20,000 coastal homes, 21 hinterland villages powered

A US$28.2M IDB-funded programme to take electricity to new housing schemes and the hinterland is over but Government yesterday announced that it has launched a special unit to continue.
The announcement was made last evening at Umana Yana by Prime Minister Sam Hinds, whose portfolios include the electricity sector.
The programme which started in earnest late 2004, has seen more than 22,000 homes on the coast being connected with 1,750 solar systems installed across 21 hinterland villages.
Places like Port Kaituma, Mahdia, Kurupukari and Orealla have all benefitted, said Morsha Johnson, Principal Project Coordinator of the Unserved Area Electrification Programme (UAEP).
She also announced that a feasibility study was conducted for mini-hydro at Chiung River help supply power to support farming and an educational complex at Kato, Region Eight.
“This project was determined feasible with a plant capacity of 570 kilowatt. It is pleasing to report that the development of this hydro facility is now being considered for funding by the EU under a collaborative effort with the Government of Guyana.”
At Mahdia and Port Kaituma, the generators have been installed with preparations to connect consumers there.
“The project also provided for the upgrading of the Lethem grid system, and in Mahdia, a solar grid tie-system was established as an experiment for alternative source of electricity supply,” the official disclosed.
Also at the event which signaled the end of that programme were Country Representative of IDB, Marco Nicola; Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn and officials of the Guyana Power and Light Inc. among them Chief Executive Officer Bharat Dindyal.
UAEP was jointly run by the PM’s office and GPL.
According to Johnson, the idea was to accelerate the development of the electricity sector and the extension of services to unserved areas.
Several regions including Region Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven and Ten benefited. The priogramme also saw GPL losses reduced from a whopping 40 per cent in 2006 to 31.3 per cent in 2010. For last year alone, interventions by the programme for GPL would have seen savings to the tune of US$4M ($800M).
The programme would have also seen the training of personnel from the Public Utilities Commission, EPA, and the Government Electrical Inspectorate (GEI) and the development of a new wiring standard.
According to the Prime Minister, when the present administration took office, squatting areas and new housing schemes and the hinterland areas were sorely in need of being connected.
Government, he said, has been making numerous forms of support including subsidizing the electricity rates, loans, investments in new generating capacity and more recently a US$40M project to upgrade the distribution system.
UAEP, he said, has made it possible for several new grids to be built, especially in the hinterland with several villages now hooked up with solar power.
While the UAEP would have ended, the need to continue is important and a special department to look after hinterland electrification has been formed.
It is Government’s plan to power all the homes in Guyana, Hinds promised, pointing out that rates are comparative to those of other countries in the region.
Speaking of the One Laptop Per Family programme and plans for the hinterland, the PM disclosed that it is the plan to set up internet cafes in the various far-flung communities and power the equipment with the larger photo-voltaic system.
He warned that with the investment, Government will continue to ramp up its no-nonsense stance on electricity theft.
Meanwhile, the IDB Country Representative and his technical specialist, Jesus Tejada, noted that electricity was important especially as it is seen as a means to eradicate poverty and promote growth.
It was noted that commercial losses of GPL represented a main challenge with the fault being at the distribution stage. Billing and technical losses were found to be the problems and UAEP was instrumental in ensuring that GPL is addressing this crucial issue.



Category/ies:Guyana News.
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