The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Incorporated, acknowledging that there has still not been noticeable improvement in its customer relations, has promised to work harder this year to improve its efficiency, although still faced with several major issues.GPL’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Technical), Elwyn Marshall, has said that notwithstanding these challenges, GPL has managed to perform commendably inGPL Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Technical), Elwyn Marshall2017, and could only improve from there on.“Credit must be given to the hard-working staff, especially those in the transmission and distribution sections, who have been forced to work under extremely adverse conditions,” he said.One of the major challenges is no growth in revenue or consumption. Revenue fell from 103.7 per cent in 2016 to 93.9 per cent in 2017, with net revenue being $28.4 billion last year, as opposed to$29 billion in 2016.However, according to Marshall, December settlement of Government bills will lead to improvement in the collection rate. Customer growth of less than 2,000, or 50 per cent, is also expected this year.In listing some of the achievements made in 2017, the GPL official pointed to work done to expand the network to provide electricity to unserved areas, which include: Yarrowkabra Housing Development, Den Hueval Housing Scheme, New Savannah Housing Scheme, and Friendship Squatting Area.Marshall said projections for 2018 include the commissioning of generators at Anna Regina (5.4MG), Canefield (5.5MW), and Bartica (3.3MW). Expressions of interest have also been accepted, and bids evaluated for the establishment of a 50MW generation plant capable of utilising natural gas.Further, the company would also be working towards establishing solar facilities at Lima Sands, Essequibo Coast; Naarstigheid, West Coast Berbice; and Kuru Kururu, East Bank Demerara. According to Marshall, there will also be continued engagement on the establishment of a wind farm at Hope, East Coast Demerara.Meanwhile, the Power Producers and Distributors Incorporation (PPDI) has made a commitment to support GPL with quality and ample power. PPDI Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Arron Fraser, said PPDI generated 596,000 megawatts of electricity in 2017, which helped to power several GPL projects.PPDI has replaced Wärtsila, and has since helped GPL to save US$2.1 million. Fraser hinted that the move to take over from Wärtsila was a good one, as the main power company has not only been helped, but a fixed rate of US$16.87 per megawatt of electricity — less than what was charged before – is now being charged.PPDI supportAccording to the PPDI CEO, the company managed to achieve its projected targets, but is still faced with some challenges, among which are understanding the dynamics of the supply chain, and transitioning from a private to a public corporation while convincing consumers to get on board.However, as part of its work programme for 2018, PPDI plans to undertake 10 major engine overhauls; major rehabilitation of plant auxiliary equipment; the implementation of International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 9000; and cross-plant training with regional utilities by utilising clean technology.Following continuing countrywide power outages over several months in the last half of 2017, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) had criticised GPL. The Commission was quick to point out that GPL subjected the entire country to a series of unannounced and frequently prolonged power outages.Shadow Minister of Public Infrastructure, Juan Edghill, said in a recent letter to the media that Guyanese are yet to be assured of the short-term, medium-term or even a workable long-term solution to ensuring cheap, reliable and renewable electricity.“We all suffered the indignities of constant blackouts during the entire year, and even during the festive season, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day,” he lamented.In mid-2017, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson had expressed disappointment at the situation, and had said he would intervene to find solutions. Patterson had told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that he would dedicate the parliamentary recess to intervene and find solutions.“Over the years, our transmission and distribution line has deteriorated. I keep saying this, and I don’t want persons to think that we know the problem and should be addressing it. It’s still functional, and can transmit electricity very efficiently, but we should be able to isolate the disturbances”, he asserted.In other instances, he said it is difficult to identify the troubled area (that is) bringing the entire system offline. “Often, the team may think they found the problem and put on back the system, only to have to take it off back when they realise they haven’t (found the problem); and this has led to the deterioration of the protection system.”Patterson said, however, that GPL is currently financially stable; therefore, monies should be invested towards enhanced generation, so that issues such as tree trimming and burnt generators will not affect distribution.