The Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL) has started the rollout of a multibillion-dollar upgrade to the electricity distribution network for villages on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD).Speaking at a community outreach with residents of Buxton and neighbouring communities, at the Buxton Secondary School last evening, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) acting, Renford Homer said the project is part of the wider Power Utility Upgrade Programme (PUUP) and is aimed at providing a higher quality of service to its consumers.“It’s not just about what’s happening in Buxton/Friendship. This is a programme that has been identified to help our company in improving the quality of service. This has come about because there has been a long recognition that our network is quite aged but more importantly because as a company we are always challenged financially because of the intense cost of generating electricity,” Bowen is quoted by the Department of Public Information as saying to residents.The renovation to the East Coast distribution network is part of an approximately US$65 million utility upgrade funded equally by a grant from the European Union (EU) and a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The project among other things will see the use of distribution boxes and insulated wires, to minimise the instances of illegal connection that cause disruptions to the power distribution network; and smart meters to allow for more frequent, accurate readings without the need to visit a consumer’s premises.According to the CEO acting, the upgrade which targets an overall 85 communities, will be rolled out in four phases, namely excavation and pole planting, stringing of conductors, electrical installation, and installation of smart meters.“This is just one phase of a project that is expected to span approximately 830km of new and upgraded cable and it’s also meant to see overall an average of about 58,000 meters being equipped with more modern electronic metres,” Homer explained.GPL has since said that during phase two and three, there will be extended periods of outages and asks that consumers bear with them.The contract for the execution of the PUUP was awarded to China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation/China Synergy Electric Engineering Company (CMC/CSEEC). The local subcontractor is Ramoutar and Sons Contracting.