Despite daily blackouts PUC gives GPL ‘thumbs up’

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…says company achieved most standards in 2021, reduced system losses

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has expressed satisfaction with the ability of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) to achieve most of its Operating Standards and Performance Targets (OSPT) for 2021, though consumers experienced more than 90 power outages that year.

“The Commission takes this opportunity to recognize the Company’s continuous stride in the reduction of system losses, which loss poses an enormous financial burden to the company. The attainment of this key target is a seminal achievement for the company,”the PUC said in its first Order for 2022.

As part of its licence to supply electricity for public purposes, which was granted in 1991 and made effective in 2010, GPL is required to report to the PUC on its Operating Standards and Performance Targets during a public hearing held no later than March 30 every year.

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Customer Interruptions, Voltage Regulation, Meter Reading, Issuing of Bills, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, System Losses and Average Availability are the eight standards and targets which are subject to review by the Commission.

The PUC is tasked with the responsibility to determine whether the power company has failed to achieve its standards and targets. The public hearing, which was conducted on March 29, 2022, was chaired by the Chairman of the PUC, Dela Britton and Commissioners Verlyn Klass, Leyland Lucas, Dr. Nanda Gopaul and Rajendra Bisessar. GPL was represented by its Chief Executive Officer, Bharat Dindyal; Deputy CEO – Support Services, Renford Homer; Divisional Director of Operations; Bharat Harjohn; and Divisional Director of Finance, Loris Nathoo among other officials.

During that public hearing, it was found that GPL was unable to limit the average number of outages consumers receive to no more than 90 in 2021. “GPL during its presentation indicated that the average number of outages experienced by a consumer in the year 2021 was 103,” the Commission said while noting that based on the System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) the standard was not met.

In its defence, GPL, during the hearing, explained that the outages were as a result of feeder and transmission line trips and increased planned maintenance in 2021.

However, while the number of outages surpassed 90 in 2021, the average duration of outages experienced by consumers was 92 hours, three hours below the limit. “The intent of this standard is to limit the duration of outages received during the year 2021 to no more than 95 hours. The average duration experienced by consumers during the year was 92. This standard was achieved,” the PUC said while referencing to the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI).

With regards to the Voltage Regulations, the power company from the onset had indicated that it would be difficult to monitor and report on the voltage supplied to each customer. Under this standard, GPL is required to maintain stable conditions, but it was not measured. However, the company opted to measure the percentage of voltage complaints it resolved within a 30-day period. “The company in the year 2021 set a target of 95% of complaints to be resolved within 30-days. The company reported that it resolved 93% of voltage complaints within a 30-day period for the year 2021,” the PUC reported while noting that the target was not achieved.

Additionally, GPL, in 2021, was required to read 97% of the meters of maximum demand consumers and 90% of the meters of non-maximum demand consumers, however, it only managed to read 89% of the latter and 90% of the former. As such, the targets set for both categories of consumers were not met. GPL, in its defence, explained that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted its meter reading exercises across all billing cycles. However, to improve on its 2020 position, the power company had implemented several initiatives to ensure that meter readings continued unabated.

These initiatives included manual readings of the maximum demand meters and the Advance Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters; reliance on submissions from consumers made via WhatsApp; and the replacement of 12, 922 defective meters.

Additionally, the power company was able to issue maximum demand bills within the required 7 day-period and non-maximum demand bills within a 10-day period. It also achieved its Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable Targets, Average Availability and System Losses Targets.

“This standard sets system losses which includes technical and non-technical losses at 26.5% of dispatched power for year 2021. For the reporting period, system losses were 26.47% of dispatched power. The standard was achieved by the company,” the Commission explained.

It added: “…despite achieving the standard, the achievement was marginally higher than in the 2020 reporting year where system losses stood at 26.11%. According to the company this was attributed to an increase in the generating capacity in 2021 which in turn led to an increase in technical losses for the company.”

The PUC explained that in arriving at its decision not to sanction the power company for targets not met, it took into account the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the world and GPL’s immediate response to tackle arising challenges. “…the Commission is cognizant that the imposition of penalties is often a measure of last resort for egregious events and not to be applied lightly. Therefore, the Commission after careful review of the targets achieved and GPL’s projections for improved service has determined that no penalty is warranted for GPL’s 2021 performance,” the Commission ruled.



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