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Govt asking big power users to leave grid during peak hours or pay increase rates

In light of the recent increased spate of blackouts, President Dr Irfaan Ali this evening announced a series of “temporary measures” that are geared towards regulating the power supply during peak hours.

These include having large-power consumers step off the national grid during peak hours or otherwise have them pay increased rates for staying on the grid during these high-demand periods.

Currently, peak demand has risen to 185 megawatts (MW) compared to just 110 MW in 2020 – an increase that is a result of massive economic growth in Guyana over the past few years under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Government.

Since taking office, the Ali-led Administration has undertaken a number of initiatives to enhance the operations of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Inc. These include the removal of VAT (Value-Added Tax) on electricity as well as the removal of excise tax on fuel.

In light of these interventions by the government, many of the major power consumers who were previously self-generating shifted back onto the grid to take advantage of these subsidies that saw them saving as much as US$9 per kw.

However, in a live broadcast this evening, President Ali said while government does not have a problem with this, the return of these big power users onto the grid has driven up peak demand especially during the periods of 13:00h to 15:00h and 18:00h to 22:00h.

“Because of the level of subsidy that we’re giving, more consumers especially the large consumers who were self-generating are back on the system and moving the demand up to 185 MW and that demand is between 1 PM to 3 PM and 6 PM to 10 PM. And you will notice that that is the timeframe generally that we have most of the blackouts.”

According to the Head of State, right now GPL is producing at about 10 MW below what is required during peak hours.

“We believe that more and more persons will come so we have to plan ahead. So, we invested in having another close to 30 MW of additional power to come into the system. We’re hoping to have this additional power come into the system by mid-December. That would take care of the rising demand at peak and ensure that we don’t have the challenges of the outages we have now.”

But in the intervening period, Government has decided to put systems in place that would reduce the demand on the grid, especially during peak hours.

“In order to come up with a temporary solution… we want to encourage the high-volume consumers to go back on self-generation between 1 PM to 3 PM and 6 PM to 10 PM so that we would not have the outages to residential communities and residents across the country. When we look at it, if we have maybe 15 to 20 of the large consumers self-generating during this period, that would give us back that room that would avoid the outages that we have right now.”

“But if they stay on the grid during this period – that is 1 to 3 PM and 6 to 10 PM as a temporary measure, we would have an additional cost of 10 cents per kilowatt hour. So they can go back without absorbing this additional cost by self-generating because they have [already] built up the capacity for that… This is a temporary measure until we get this close to 30 megawatts of new power coming in at mid-December and then this temporary measure would be withdrawn so that everyone can come back on the grid [full time].”