Mid-year report– despite power outages, poor service deliveryBy Jaryl BryanDespite the frequent power outages and poor service that plague consumers, the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) managed to improve its revenue collection by raking in $17 billion in the first half of 2017.Acting CEO of GPL, Renford HomerThe whopping sum represents an increase from $14.7 billion for the same period in 2016. According to the 2017 mid-year report released by Government, the increase in revenue is as a result of more timely payments.The report also details that expenditure increased from $9.3 billion in the first half of 2016 to $12.6 billion in the same period this year. This increase, according to the report, is due to higher costs for Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO).It also states that the weighted average cost rose to US$48.70 for the half year; an increase from US$30.50 as at June 30, 2016. Other expenditure included some $500 million the utility company repaid Government for loans.But with the increased revenue, the company’s outlook for the year has improved. According to the report, the budgeted deficit of $5 billion is now expected to be lowered to $771 million.The report said there was a marginal increase in the production of electricity to 394,832 MWh in the first half of the year. However, the report acknowledges that the company’s technical performance remains plagued with problems.“At the half year 2017, the 12-month rolling average of total losses was 29.6 per cent, a slight increase from the half year for 2016 when the total losses was 29.3 per cent,” the report stated.“In a continued effort to promote the stability and reliability of existing power grid, $1.38 billion has been advanced for the rehabilitation of 328 km of low and medium voltage distribution networks in the first half.”The report reveals that works are expected to commence in the second half of the year, with GPL expecting the work to improve power service delivery to approximately 22,000 of its customers. The work includes plans to rehabilitate an additional 580km of the distribution network.But even as GPL seeks to improve its infrastructure, service disruptions continue to raise the ire of customers. It is understood that as of March 2017, there were 29 complaints from GPL customers at the level of the Public Utility Commission (PUC). GPL therefore comes in second on the list of complaints, behind only Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT).Last month, frustrated businessmen from Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) met with staff from GPL at the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), where they vented their anger at the constant and prolonged power outages on the Essequibo Coast.With the northern side of the Essequibo Coast hardest hit, the businessmen pointed to the plight of residents in Charity, who have suffered in the dark for days.Essequibo Chambers of Commerce Chairman Deleep Singh, representing entrepreneurs, noted that a number of businesses suffered tremendous losses as a direct result of the blackouts. They questioned whether GPL would compensate them for their suffering and losses.On Thursday last, after much outcry from citizens, the company stated that “a botched tree trimming exercise and a burnt jumper” were among the reasons for the electricity woes.GPL’s Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Renford Homer, also explained that shutdown of the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS) had resulted in a generation shortfall occasioned by reduced generation reserve.Homer also explained that when the demand was about 84 megawatts, there were 87 megawatts available for generation, which left only three megawatts of reserve capacity, instead of the normal 20 megawatts. Moreover, the machines at Skeldon and Garden of Eden were being overhauled, whilst the one at Kingston was undergoing routine maintenance.Power upgradesAt a year-end press conference, Homer had announced that some $3 billion would be spent by the company towards the construction of four new substations.He had stated that this formed part of $6.6 billion that had been set aside for works to improve service delivery of the company; $3 billion for the new substations and $1.4 billion for renovation works to existing substations.According to Homer, these works are expected to be completed by 2018.