Georgetown, Guyana --- (METERING.COM) --- January 2, 2008 - Guyana’s state-owned electric utility Guyana Power & Light has increased its rates for 2008 between six and 20 percent.

Effective January 1, government offices will see a 20 percent increase in the price of electricity, businesses 15 percent and residential customers from 6 to 9 percent, the utility announced late last week.

The increases come against a background of numerous problems and financial woes being suffered by Guyana Power & Light. Among these are extensive outages, particularly in the south east, which led the president, Bharrat Jagdeo to intervene, rushing in five new 2 MW generators from the U.S. to avert blackouts during the holiday season.

In November 2006 the utility introduced a five year development and expansion program for the period 2007-11, one of the key elements of which is to reduce the non-technical losses, which contribute almost 29 percent to the 40 percent total loss figure. Of these, approximately 11 percent are attributed to each of illegal connections and metering problems and 6 percent to billing issues, and plans include accelerating the replacement of defective meters – many more than 20 years old – with a replacement target of 90,000 meters with new interfaces over the program period, installing a new Customer Information System and acquiring vehicles for the teams addressing electricity theft.

Guyana Power & Light has also started to install Itron’s AMR system, with automatic reading via a hand-held, for the maximum demand customers in and around Georgetown, with an initial purchase of 500 meters.

Guyana Power & Light is the main official supplier of electricity in Guyana, with its franchise area encompassing the entire three counties of Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo.