PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has used the commissioning of a new gas turbine at the Kanudi Power Station to call for support for private investment in the power industry to combat crippling shortages.

The new turbine will be used to ease pressure on the Port Moresby grid during peak hours and for emergencies, with Mr O’Neill saying the purchase was an acknowledgement of the country’s dire electricity shortage.

“Our government does not have enough money to continue to invest in PNG Power – that is a fact,” Mr O’Neill said at the commissioning.

“We are inviting private sector money into our country. We are not selling PNG Power to anyone else – we are offering it to our citizens.”

Mr O’Neill said successive governments had failed to maintain or upgrade the power grid and the time had come to commit to building necessary infrastructure

“The continuous lack of supply of consistent power to conduct our activities or business is becoming too regular,” he said.

“While you and I are launching this project, you must imagine that every night six million Papua New Guineans go to bed without power supply to their houses.

“Our country deserves more. Our country deserves to ensure that it secures the energy security of the nation so that we can continue to build on the growth of the economy that we are experiencing today,” he said.

Mr O’Neill said discussions with gas producers must conclude soon in order to secure a steady supply for to power the Kanudi turbine.

“We are already producing gas in this country – there is no excuse for further delays,” he said

Mr O’Neill lamented PNG Power’s failure to maintain the standards it set in years past.

“Many of us who are you today know PNG Power from about 20 to 30 years ago – it was the pride of the nation,” he said

“It was the most efficient and effectively in the managed organisation in the country.

“Now that has all gone because governments from time to time have not be able to invest money into PNG Power

“We can’t blame the board, we can’t blame the management, we can’t blame the workers of PNG Power – we can blame ourselves.”

Mr O’Neill said PNG Power had long lacked capital investment and the results were now clear to all.

“We are praying the price today. That is why I say to everyone, including our critics. It’s not time for political opportunism – it is time for us to offer solutions.”

The construction of the Yonki hydroelectric expansion must be started next year, he said, adding that power generators and the existing hydro scheme must be maintained and upgraded.

“There must be no more excuses. We will find the money that is needed,” he said

PNG Power board chairman Larry Andagali said once the project team completes all testing requirements with the Kanudi gas turbine, they will move to have a similar turbine commissioned in Lae – possibly in time for Christmas.

“This is an Independence Day present to the people of this city and I do believe it will greatly assist PNG Power in its capacity to supply the increasing demand for power supply to the city,” Mr Andagali said.

“As the proud electricity agency of the national government, PNG Power is always committed to providing a service to the people of Papua New Guinea and the government’s purchase of this new gas turbine does strengthen that commitment.

“This commitment is in line with the National Government Medium Term Development Strategies (MTDS) and the Vision 2050 for providing electricity infrastructure and services to all communities.”