Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Hydro Electric
(Aired 1 November 2002)

     Some months ago a company called Synergy told this nation that they were going to build a hydro electric power station at Amaila's Falls in the convolution of the Kuribung and Amaila rivers in the Potaro river basin. They told us that the project will cost them 320 million US dollars. Synergy is a conglomerate of Guyanese and US investors abroad including the Hazra Group, a world renowned hydroelectric dam contractor, who built among other things the Guri Dam in Venezuela. So their bona fides are good.

   They approached the Environmental Protection Agency and were instructed to prepare an environmental impact assessment study which they did and which was submitted to the EPA on December 2001.

   The EPA approved the project after studying it and found no significant adverse impact on the Macro environment.

   This means that as of 29th July 2002 Synergy was given the environmental go ahead to commence the construction of this hydro electric power station by the government of Guyana through a license dated 29th July 2002.

   This hydropower installation is estimated to produce 100 megawatts in the first instance but will have the capacity to generate 150 Megawatts later if required.

   Not hearing anything further on the matter, and since I have always felt that hydropower was the salvation of this nation, I decided to investigate.

  What, I asked myself, could possibly be denying this country and its citizens the capability to enhance our productive sector, our manufacturing sector and our economic growth as a nation. 

   The first thing I learnt was that Synergy had informed our Honorable Prime Minister that they can deliver electricity to Sophia within 4 years of today's date, if given the go ahead, at a cost of thirteen dollars and thirty cents Guyana per kilowatt, we Guyanese are currently paying 47 dollars per kilowatt to GP&L.

    But these investors need an agreement with GP&L to buy at least 50 megawatts of power from synergy, since it makes no business sense building a hydroelectric power station when you cannot sell electricity to anyone. ESBI and GP&L have refused to sit down and discuss the purchase of this power from Synergy.

  Now I want to remind the public that GP&L currently generate 100 Megawatts of power. So it is strange indeed that they cannot contract to buy 50 megawatts of power from Synergy at this low rate, which consumes no foreign exchange and which will benefit this nation in such a significant way.

    Every story has a villain, and the villain of this piece is of course our rapacious friends at GP&L, they have come up with every conceivable excuse why we should not get involved in the purchase of this hydro power from Synergy at a fraction of the current cost of their generation, using expensive fossil fuel generators. They have objected because it will upset their obnoxious deal with Sam Hinds and reduce their profits, I say their deal with Sam Hinds personally and not this nation, since this deal with them never saw the light of day in our parliament, before it was consummated. That alone renders the GP&L deal void. We are still getting blackouts and that also renders the agreement void. In fact since they have not fixed the distribution system and reduced the technical line loss of 42%, 3 years after they took over GEC and since electrical rates have skyrocketed, we should sue them for repudiatory breaches of their agreement. It is not only Sam Hinds ladies and gentlemen, we do not have a proper legal system in this country, they broke several aspects of the contract with us and they failed to deliver a proper and affordable service, so they should pay us. 

   Telling us that purchasing 50 Megawatts of power from this Hydroelectric plant is unrealistic since we do not need that amount of power is absolute nonsense, shut down the diesel generators at Garden of Eden and Kingston and keep them as standby, they are worthless otherwise and to hell with ESBI's bottom line, but since these generators will no longer be required to run on a daily basis and ESBI'S obnoxious management contract to service, run and maintain these huge fossil fuel guzzlers at the exorbitant fees we now pay them in management fees, their contract will have to be re-examined, since all they will have to do is maintain the distribution system, that is why they have refused to look at this matter.

   Whenever cheap power is available, the business community will find a way of harnessing it for development, this means that jobs will be created, this means that investment in manufacturing will step up, this means that rice millers and many other large companies will buy power from the utility cheaper than by generating it themselves. this has to be the only country on the planet where you can generate your own power cheaper than the power company, it also means ladies and gentlemen that if your light bill is now say 12,000 Guyana dollars per month, it can go down to 6000 Guyana dollars per month and in 12 years it can go down to as low as G$3000 per month. Since Synergy tells us that they can contract to deliver power to Sophia at 7 US cents per kilowatt and after 12 years they can deliver it at 4 US cents per kilowatt.  

   The people at GP&L seem to be totally oblivious to the fact that major businesses in this country are being forced to generate their own power, since they cannot afford to pay the unconscionably high rates that GP&L is now charging them. Every time a large company comes off the grid, the electricity rate for the common consumer rises. Any fool should know that.

      GP&L must be forced to buy this power from this hydroelectric plant, this enormous financial burden on the Guyanese people for electricity must stop, the eye pass must stop, they must be forced to stop thinking that all Guyanese are fools.

   When and IF this government decides to build a proper road to Brazil this country will be receiving raw goods from Brazil which can be processed to our mutual benefit here in Guyana, before it is shipped elsewhere, that is how you create jobs, that is how you create wealth and that is how you fight crime.

   To do this we need cheap reliable power, what we do not need is ESBI messing up the works to our detriment for their own agenda.  

   Finally ladies and gentlemen this government told the World Bank that they will reduce poverty in this nation by implementing the National Development Strategy, well Mr. Hinds on Page 75 of the NDS paragraph 7.1.4.4. it says and I quote it "it is evident that hydro power represents a major economic endowment and opportunity for Guyana both as a primary source of power for domestic consumption and as the hub around which the development of the country's economic potential could revolve, it would seem from the available data that priority should be given to the development of Amelia, the utilization of which would enable the establishment of industries such as the smelting of aluminum, and yet leave sufficient excess capacity to serve the rest of Guyana's domestic and industrial needs for some time to come. It is also clear that urgent attention should be given to the promotion of investment in mining and other energy intensive areas of Guyana's economy" end quote. As usual this government is saying one thing and doing something completely different. I will keep this matter in front of the public every week, personally and through the Evening News until Mr. Hinds remembers that he is the Prime Minister of Guyana and not Ireland.       

     The people of this nation must wake up, you have rights and you have power... why can't you stand up, all of you, as one people, and demand it.