Former Presidents Jagdeo and Ramotar are not paying attention. Solar energy is far cheaper than the US$400-800M gas to shore project. I have already made this public without refutation. Last year the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) asked me for a conversation in August 2020 after I again publicly advised the PPP/C government to give up the Amaila Falls Project in favour of solar energy.
With the permission of a client, I shared invoices that demonstrated that solar power could also be used here for US$2 per installed and ready-to-receive household watt. Since then, solar energy projects of that cost have been approved by the GEA.
Mr Ramotar said it reminds him of the “Amaila Falls Project” which was frustrated by similar daily attacks from the opposition and the regular critics. He said, “All, I repeat, all, the information was shared with the opposition parties, who had no suggestions nor criticisms when the government representatives met them on more than one occasion.” Yet APNU voted against it in the National Assembly and the investor walked away.
There are several lessons to be drawn from this.
1. He shared all the information, so why can’t the Govt do the same with the gas to shore project? Don’t they realize that the US$400-800M figure betrays 100% uncertainty?
2. There were no criticisms by the opposition. This could mean that the then opposition had no problem with all the information per se, hopefully provided in a timely manner, but just that they might have had other priorities, having access to the public advice of the eminent economist Clive Thomas, with whose analysis of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project I agreed.
3. Or maybe the opposition heard of the cheaper solar energy, for which I have evidence that Mr Ramotar paid no heed. For I did write about it: https://www.stabroeknews.com/2013/08/04/opinion/letters/with-the-technology-available-today-hydropower-should-not-be-considered-feasible-for-countries-close-to-the-equator/
4. The analyses and alternatives were all out in the public domain but were studiously ignored as if we were dunces and the PPP/C had all the answers. Let Mr Ramotar use his training as an economist to refute the alternative that a less privileged Guyanese pensioner has proposed and still proposes.
But a word of caution. Projects like these are scaled differently. Engineers have a method of scaling projects of any magnitude by using dimensionless numbers. Do the economists and financial advisers the PPP/C government listens to have such a method? Dr Jagdeo failed with the Skeldon Sugar Factory project. He believed he could give a Chinese firm with no such experience the experience to build it cheaper than engineering firms elsewhere, including Guyanese engineering firms. He was out of his depth here. The APNU+AFC government failed even more pathetically to negotiate a proper deal for Exxon to extract oil. And yes, the gas-to-shore project is currently scaled above the PPP/C government’s rating as economists.