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Reopening bids on Guyana's Amaila Falls Hydro Project emphasises Govt’s renewable energy pledge – AG

Guyana Times

An artist’s impression of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project dam

By Guyana Times

GEORGETOWN
Petroleumworld 09 30 2021

Recent advertisements for proposals for the Amaila Falls Hydro Project (AFHP) have been hailed not only as testimony to the Government’s commitment to ushering in renewable energy, but also a manifestation of its emphasis on transparency.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall holds up the full-page ad for the project during his show
During his show “Issues in the News”, Attorney General and Senior Counsel Anil Nandlall referenced advertisements for proposals for AFHP, which were published in the daily newspapers. According to Nandlall, the advancement of the project is testimony to the Government’s manifesto promise of clean and reliable energy.

“Recall that we said in our manifesto, and in our campaign, that we have a full-fledged energy policy. That on the one hand, we will pursue petroleum production and that will be a major plank of our economic and energy platform. We also said that we will pursue, explore, and continue to exploit the available opportunities in our country to realise alternative and renewable energy sources.”

Nandlall made it clear that the Government will continue to invest in and facilitate not only hydropower, but also solar and wind energy sources. The AG also noted that the Government is committed to transparency and accountability throughout the project.


“I want also to take this opportunity to hold up this newspaper so that all of you see it, because I fear that soon the propaganda wheel will begin to spin and the Government will be accused of not acting transparently and not advertising this project publicly.

“And that the Government will be accused of corruption and a lack of transparent actions. But here it is, a full-page advertisement from the Office of the Prime Minister inviting requests for proposals for the Amaila Falls Project,” the AG said, after holding up the advertisement which features extensive details about how the project would be advertised and the nature of the project.

He recalled that pre-2015 the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government in its attempts at facilitating transparency did not get the support of the then A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance For Change (AFC) Opposition parties, before they coalesced for the 2015 elections.

“They said that we were borrowing billions and we were going to bankrupt the country. Nothing further from the truth. Blackstone (Sithe Global) was going to finance this project from their own finances… All the Government had to do was sign an agreement guaranteeing payments… we needed parliamentary approval and because we were a minority, the Opposition, who held a majority then, voted the project down.

“They said we never gave them enough documents. I remember distinctly, I was Attorney General, President [Donald] Ramotar called them (APNU and AFC) to the office. A whole team of them came to Office of the President and Winston Brassington, on behalf of the Government and NICIL, gave them several cartons of documents – in excess of what they wanted. They never read a single page. They never understood the project. They still went and voted it down.”

Back in July, the Government had opened tenders for the AFHP. The Request For Proposals (RFP) which was issued by the Office of the Prime Minister indicates that the Government is eyeing completion of the project by the end of 2025.

The responses to the RFP, including all documents requested in the tender, had a submission deadline of September 26, 2021.

According to the tender, the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), in its Development and Expansion (D&E) plan for 2021 to 2025, estimates that by 2025 some 465 Megawatts (MW) and 2900 Gigawatt Hours (GWH) of power will be needed.

It was further noted that the Government wanted an energy mix that uses both natural gas (a reference to the gas-to-shore project) and Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO), as well as renewable energy like hydropower, wind and solar.

When it comes to the scope of work, the project entails the construction of a 165 MW installed hydro dam, plant and related works, as well as transmission lines and structures from Amaila Falls in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) to Sophia, Greater Georgetown.

They must also create 230 kV substations in Linden and Sophia, as well as a 23 square km storage reservoir. Additionally, the contractor will be expected to upgrade and complete roads and bridges to the site and assume all geotechnical risks associated with the project.

Two options are on the table for bidders in the RFP – Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) and Design Build Finance (DBF). According to the RFP, bidders must respond to both options, with the best one being chosen by the Government.

The revival of the 165 MW AFHP was one of the promises made by the PPP/C in its manifesto. The project was initiated under the previous PPP/C Administration, but was scrapped by the then APNU and AFC Opposition which had controlled the National Assembly by a one-seat majority.

Further, when it got into office following the 2015 elections, the APNU/AFC had gotten clearance from Norway to divert the monies that were initially set aside for Amaila Falls to fund a 100 MW solar energy project. The AFHP was the flagship of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).

Amaila was expected to deliver a steady source of clean, renewable energy that would have been affordable and reliable, and was envisioned to meet approximately 90 per cent of Guyana’s domestic energy needs while removing dependency on fossil fuels.

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