PM outlines transformative energy sector upgrades in Budget 2022
– Renewable energy high on the agenda
Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d), the Honourable Mark Phillips outlined several transformative projects that the Government will undertake in 2022 to significantly improve the local energy sector.
During his budget presentation on Friday evening, the senior government official said that the distribution of 30,000 solar PV home energy systems will start in hinterland and riverine communities this year. At its completion, 4.5 megawatts of power will be provided across all ten administrative regions, benefiting over 200 communities and tens of thousands of Guyanese.
Several small but transformative renewable energy projects are also expected to be completed. Among these are the installation of a 1.5 megawatt solar farm in Bartica and a one megawatt solar farm in Lethem. Both projects are expected to be completed within the first quarter of 2022.
“These initiatives that capitalise on the power of renewable energy will certainly lead us along a path of sustainability while allowing us to reach remote areas to serve the needs of people who have, for too long, remained unserved because of their geographical location”.
Additionally, the Prime Minister said that $31.6m has been budgeted as a catalyst for e-mobility. This allocation will see the installation of six level-three fast charging facilities for electric vehicles. The facilities, which will be located at S & R Parking Lot, Guyana Energy Agency, MovieTowne, Giftland Mall, Massy at Providence and Little Rock Suites in New Amsterdam, are expected to achieve 80% charging capacity within 40 minutes.
The Prime Minister added that the Government has catered for the addition of 2.8 megawatts of power to GPL’s capacity this year. This comes as a result of growing demand.
“Despite the challenges faced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Guyana Power and Light customer base increased by five per cent in 2021”.
He added that GPL expects “10 percent growth in the customer base, with an estimated 235,576 customers by December 31 2022”.
According to the senior government official, there are also planned infrastructural upgrades being undertaken at GPL in 2022 that will see the company reducing loss of generation capacity and improving its ability to transmit power to cater to the demand.
Among these plans is the reinforcing of the Demerara – Berbice interconnected system through the upgrades of several integral transmission and distribution locations.
In addition to these provisions, the Wales gas-to-energy project and the Amaila Falls hydropower project will also commence this year under the Prime Minister’s supervision.
“Both projects will transform the cost structure of GPL and will bring stability to the current fluctuations in generation cost due to the volatility of fuel prices”.
With regard to the telecommunication sector, the Prime Minister said that the Government is committed to creating an environment that fosters competition.
He assured the National Assembly that in addition to liberalising the telecommunication sector within 64 days of taking office, the administration has also moved to implement number portability–a mechanism that would allow persons to keep their mobile numbers while changing service providers.
A working group among the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and local service providers is in place and pursuing a December 2022 completion date of the new telecommunication mechanism.
“Another competition facilitating measure is the issuance of a licence for the operation of a third submarine fibre optic cable connecting Guyana to the global internet via the Atlantic Ocean. This development means that all three of our major service providers will have their own transatlantic submarine fiber optic cables”.
Additionally, the Prime Minister said that a fourth mobile service operator was licenced and is expected to commence operations within 2022.
The National Data Management Authority (NDMA) has also boosted its operations by increasing its bandwidth capacity by 167%.
“This allowed for the increase in Wi-Fi bandwidth from 50 to 200Mbps at 139 public internet access sites. Overall public Wi-Fi consumption increased from 242Mbps in January to 500Mbps by October 2021”.
Additionally, the Prime Minister expressed disappointment in the parliamentary opposition for sticking to a political agenda and not acknowledging the many benefits that Budget 2022 offers to ordinary Guyanese.
“How can you come and lecture us about a budget that does not provide for the people of Guyana, a budget that provides $600,000 starting this year for everybody who has to do dialysis… I served in the military, I interact with veterans, and this is one of the issues that was raised by the leadership of the veteran foundation. About many shut-ins that have kidney issues and are challenged to pay for their treatment… this is the Government that has provided for that this year”.
Prime Minister Phillips recommended the budget to the House as one that is transformative and people centred.