GPL ready to purchase power from independent producers

Taken from Kaieteur News 29th January, 2017

-to save $$millions in overhauls to procurement, inventory

Weeks after scathing criticisms over a series of outages, the state-owned Guyana Power and

GPL’s Chairman, Robert Badal

Light (GPL) is upbeat about a number of major changes which will impact not only the way it operates but also how it manages its assets.
On Friday Chairman, Robert Badal, outlined major accomplishments of the one-year-old board and strategies to be taken in 2017 to deliver a more reliable service to its customers.
During last year, there was better financial management in organizing all its financial assets into a consolidated account.
From cash sitting in many bank accounts across the country, GPL’s finances are now transferred weekly into one central account.
With regards to the Central bank account, Badal disclosed that in the past, there were huge sums being kept in separate accounts for payments made at different locations across the country.
The creation of a consolidated account is part of the moves to strengthen GPL’s financial management.
Inventory management was ensured with improved procurement procedures. Full computerization of its inventory started and is expected to go live by July 2017. From a completely manual operation of its $3.5B inventory the new system will facilitate better accountability, lower inventory levels and improved cash flow.
It’s procurement policy has been reviewed and would soon be submitted to National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) for approval. The new policy would remove the old system of open tendering for everything to more selective tendering which facilitates standardization.
With GPL practicing an open tendering system before, it was faced with some major issues.
Many of the supplies were coming in quickly and some of it appeared not to be of the required international standards. It created a nightmare situation for GPL which in some cases were ordering them by the thousands.

GPL has made some major changes to its operational and financial management systems over the last year, Chairman Robert Badal says.

As a result, along with the computerization, GPL has introduced systems that will allow for quarterly delivery of parts and other supplies instead of annually. This will reduce wastage and damage and improve cash management, Badal noted.
To ensure that parts are standardized to meet international requirements, GPL will be looking to work with companies that have established a track record in quality, with customer support and warranties critical.
The new policy focuses on buying directly from manufacturers or their appointed distributors
Not Necessarily Cheap
With the new systems in place, Guyana can expect better internal efficiency at GPL, he said.
Meanwhile, in terms of generation, Badal announced that three new engines, of 1.7 megawatts each, and costing US$5.2M, are to be installed at Anna Regina, Essequibo Coast and operational by September.
The new German-made MAN engines will be a major improvement for a region that has been neglected for years as far as new capacity is concerned, Badal disclosed.
The region was hit by a series of outages last year as the generators went down on a number of occasions.
At Bartica, Region Seven, a riverain mining community in the Essequibo River, three smaller units are being purchased for that area that will have the capacity of integrating with alternative energy like solar. GPL is currently assessing a number of options for the engines there.
Another major development expected to come on stream in as early as two months, will be a grid code which allows independent producers to sell power from different sources.
The grid code is being implemented by Siemens, an international company, which has been engaged with GPL, who is expected to advertise for independent power producers shortly.
Already Giftland Mall has offered to sell its extra power. So too have a number of other companies.
According to Badal, his personal preference is for GPL to attract a number of these producers. The rates and other details will have to be approved by the Public Utilities Commission.
Enough Power
According to the GPL chairman, the company is currently looking good with its present power supply. With its operating engines carrying a capacity of 140 megawatts, there is a 114 megawatts peak demand, which has left GPL with some leg room.
With some of GPL’s engines over 20 years old, over the next year, moves will be made to buy new engines that will have total capacity of up to 33 megawatts. These will replace the old ones.
Badal noted that the major problem facing GPL is not in the generating department, but rather with its aging transmission and distribution section.
GPL is planning to train a number of its technicians to conduct “live” maintenance work. This will include special protective suits for workers, and no longer will require an entire section to be shut down to carry out emergency works.
Badal argued that more than 90 percent of the instances of outages are simple trips that see power coming on back in 10 minutes. There are a number of technical fixes being carried out that will result in reduction of system trips, he said.
These included the installation of covered conductors and connectors which normally are exposed to rain and sun and can erode quickly causing shortages. Automatic re- closures, distance fault detection systems will also reduce trips.
A major project is also expected to start, shortly, to change out the old low and medium voltage lines- almost 900 km- and the introduction of smart meters moving its grid forward to a smart grid using communication technologies to read meters and reduce losses. Eventually, visiting homes to read meters would be something of the past.
New sub stations and refurbishments to old substations under the Power Utility Upgrade programme will ensure better reliability and lower losses.

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