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PM regrets ‘great difficulties’ in Berbice power supply

 Prime Minister Samuel Hinds yesterday expressed concern that Berbicians have been experiencing “great difficulties” since last Sunday owing to electricity generation problems which have impacted water supply to all consumers, including the hospitals.

“As Minister Responsible for Electricity I would like to extend regrets and assure citizens of Berbice of my concern about the great difficulties they have been experiencing from last Sunday as a result of problems with the electricity generation and supply and consequential problems with water supply; problems at the hospital and indeed problems for every consumer so dependent on the electricity supply,” Hinds  stated in his  press release issued from the Office of the Prime Minister, Wight’s Lane, Kingston.

  Schoolgirl in abandoned house

However, it was hoped that by yesterday afternoon the No. 4 unit would have been back in  service  and all the problems on the transmission and distribution lines would have been corrected.

And detailing the problems which once again gave rise to electricity woes in Berbice, the prime minister said  there had been two aged 5MW Mirlees-Blackstone generator units at the Canefield generating station but  the No. 3 unit had   failed beyond economic repair in  August 2001, while  GPL had been able to keep the other unit, the No. 4, in operation. But whenever this unit develops problems or has to be taken off for scheduled maintenance, he added,  there are difficulties.

And last October there was such an episode when leaks developed in a water jacket of the engine.

Then last Sunday problems of  low resistance  developed in the alternator and to compound this,  on Monday afternoon problems developed on the transmission and distribution lines between Canefield and Auchlyne  with  Albion to Williamsburg  being particularly seriously  hit.

Moreover,  on Thursday afternoon the turbine at the Skeldon Factory tripped and the whole of the Corentyne was without power for about three hours from about 3:30 to 6:30 pm, Hinds said further.

Overall   the supply of power  during this episode has been better than last October owing  to the electricity that is now available from the Skeldon  Factory but  the prime minister acknowledged that,  “the situation is not as robust as it ought to be.”

Meanwhile, Hinds noted that  GPL’s Chief Executive Officer Bharrat Dindyal has  been  directing the troubleshooting of the line problems and the attempts to repair the alternator of the No. 4 unit.   “Indeed he is now in East Berbice and his hope is that between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm  (yesterday afternoon)  the alternator would have passed the resistance tests and the No. 4 unit would have been declared available for service by which time also all the problems on the transmission and distribution lines would have been corrected.”
In the meantime, work is ongoing to rehabilitate and install a purchased, used Mirlees Blackstone unit at the No. 3 position, returning to the 10MW of generation supply at Canefield and utilizing the less costly HFO (Heavy Fuel Oil) instead of diesel by end of September, Hinds stated.

He said further that   the No. 4 unit  should be rehabilitated  and converted  similarly to HFO by the end of November, while l a 69 KV transmission link would be installed from the Skeldon Factory to No. 53 Village  by the end of September.

This will allow GPL to receive, if needs be, up to about 15 MW from the Skeldon  Factory,  which is about the current peak demand for Berbice.

“Allow me to assure you that I would keep GPL on track on their capital investment programme to achieve a much more robust situation by the end of the year,” the prime minister assured.

Hinds  also noted that the GPL Board and Management are aware of the general rules for reserve capacity requirements for certain  levels of reliability.

“We are aware that GPL has been very far below such requirements.   We have been working steadily to get there – closing the gap even as demand increases and distribution is extended. Be assured that as minister I would keep on pressing for the best electricity supply in our situation,”  he added.

In a letter in Thursday’s edition of the Stabroek News, Berbician Leon Suseran said there had been 114 blackouts in East Berbice so far for 2009.

He added “What are the Chambers of Commerce in Berbice doing? I would like to suggest that they get off their behinds and openly ask for the answers we Berbicians seek! Not one word of complaint and dissatisfaction has been heard from the New Amsterdam, Central Corentyne or Upper Corentyne Chambers of Commerce about the recent spate of blackouts Berbicians have been facing.”

He declared that “If this government has one shred of decency left, they would mandate a commission of inquiry into the Canefield Power Station – not tomorrow, not the next day, not next month but now!”