Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) is looking to boost its efficiency and capacity with the help of a Canadian-based firm, Manitoba Hydro International (MHI) Ltd, which specialises in upgrading power companies around the world.The three-year contract will see the company providing training, capacity building, and knowledge transfer to GPL’s management. MHI will support GPL in its performance of key business areas to improve the utility company’s capabilities for providing an efficient, reliable, and sustainable service.This project falls under the Management Strengthening Programme (MSP), which is a component of the multimillion-dollar Inter-American Development Bank/European Union (IDB/EU) funded Power Utility Upgrade Programme (PUUP).The project is divided into three components – the management strengthening programme valued US.3 million; improving operational efficiency at the cost of US.3 million; and some US million to be spent on improving the company’s infrastructure in order to target loss reduction.Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Chairman of GPL Board Robert Badal explained that the project is to improve the operational efficiency of GPL’s management, the reliability of the grid and to also reduce the high losses.He disclosed that the company’s level of losses is pegged at around 29 per cent, hence, the money injected will be used on measures to reduce the losses incurred with the procurement of some 54,000 smart meters that can be read remotely, among other steps.Electricity theftMoreover, he outlined that electricity theft is one of the major contributions to the losses that company incurs. To this end, the GPL Chairman urges persons to report incidents of electricity theft.He said the main goal is to reduce losses from the existing 29 per cent now to around 27 per cent or 27.5 per cent.According to the Chairman, curbing electricity theft is an ongoing process and the company’s Loss Reduction Department has been working assiduously on the matter. He noted that officers from that section usually go out to inspect meters that are defective in order to prevent theft.He added too that there are systems in place to monitor individual customer’s consumption so if there is a drastic decrease then they will look into it. However, the Chairman recognised the need for the department to be strengthened, noting that this will be done under the Management Strengthening Programme.Furthermore, Badal added that as part of the more targeted approach, GPL’s Information Technology (IT) section will be expanded.“So it’s a continuous process… the losses (GPL incurs) are a combination of issues and we can’t improve on any of this until we improve GPL’s executive management,” he stated.Nevertheless, the Head of the GPL Board posited that there has been a progressive improvement in the delivery of power over the last three years, with the Infrastructural Development Programme having a big impact on the grid.Efficient generationMHI representatives along with GPL Chairman Robert Babal, acting CEO Renford Homer and PUUP Project Coordinator Donald Nurse“Currently we have no deficit in generation, it is very efficient. Our focus here is improving management competence and the grid further,” he noted.Badal pointed out that GPL’s full capacity is some 140 mega watts and only 114 mega watts are being consumed. He added that while 95 per cent of the blackouts are not generation issues, there is still need to improve the system.“Rest assured we are improving generation but no amount of generation could ensure complete reliability without an efficient grid… We are moving forward but progressive sometimes takes time especially in a capital intensive environment,” he stated.Meanwhile, Contract Manager of Manitoba, Scott Russell, said that during the company’s tenure here, it will be working to support GPL’s key management through a combination of classroom-based training and on the job training.He explained that MHI staffs its projects with seasoned energy sector professionals in key consulting roles around the world and with many years of operational utility experience in both developed and developing countries.The team that will be coming to Guyana will include seven full-time utility specialists and eight short-term training support specialists. These specialists will work in partnership with GPL staff to achieve the utility’s objectives by couching them in specific areas.Russell sought to clarify that the experts from MHI will have no authority whatsoever over the GPL managers whom they will be coaching during their three-year tenure here. “Our mandate is to provide guidance and coaching, not to make decisions. We aren’t in any formal place of authority, we are just here to provide coaching to persons in senior positions (within GPL).Currently, MHI is conducting a needs analyst, from which the Canadian-based team will determine where GPL is and what has to be done going forward to improve its services.As a subsidiary of a Canadian energy utility, Manitoba Hydro, MHI offers clients over a century’s worth of best practice experience by helping them to deliver electricity and natural gas efficiently, effectively, and in a sustainable manner.In operation for over 130 years, Manitoba Hydro is a vertically integrated, Government-owned Canadian Provincial Crown Corporation. The corporation holds in-service assets in excess of US$17 billion, generates over US$2 billion in annual revenue, and employs over 6500 utility staff. Manitoba Hydro is a major energy utility that is intimately involved in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of electricity and gas infrastructure.