Shoddy upgrade, malfunctioning parts responsible – source

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Blackout woes

… as GPL blames tripped transformer for latest blackouts

The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Demerara Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS) shut down on Tuesday without notice, causing those connected to the grid to be without power again, an increasing phenomenon in recent weeks.
While the power company has blamed a tripped transformer for Tuesday’s widespread blackout, sources close to the utility company’s operations are in fact blaming the shoddy works of the contractors that ‘upgraded’ the grid recently at a cost of US$42 million, coupled with inferior infrastructure and the displaced Wärtsilä managers as among the key reasons for the now incessant shutdowns.
The power company in a subsequent public missive said “At approximately 08:30h this morning (Tuesday), a transformer trip at our Kingston power station caused the DBIS to experience a shutdown. Restoration efforts commenced immediately and most areas were repowered at approximately 09:45h with the exception of Sophia, La Penitence, East Ruimveldt, West Ruimveldt and a section of the East Bank, between Herstelling and Craig. These areas were re-powered at 13:00h.”
Guyana Times has since learnt that the transformers referred to by GPL are not those seen installed on utility poles but instead are used to step up the power generated at the Kingston plant.
It was explained that the generating sets in fact produce 13.8V which is then fed through the transformer and stepped up to 69KV which is then transferred to the Sophia distribution centre.
There are several recent incidents according to Guyana Times source, where the power company experienced outages but are unsure as to the cause.
It was explained too that in many instances, Rural Cut Offs (ROC) which have been installed across the grid failed to effectively work which causes complications for the entire grid.
This publication was told that the ROCs are meant to act as fuses that would trip in case of surges or other malfunctions, hence isolating that section of the grid.
This does not obtain however, since the installed ROCs are in many instances not functioning, resulting in the surges not being contained. As such, it affects the entire grid. They have been described as defective which prevents them from functioning effectively.
Electricity woes being experienced on the West Bank of Demerara are also being blamed on not only the inferior infrastructure in place but the actual design and location of the Vreed-en-Hoop plant.
It was explained that a recent explosion at the Craig, East Bank Demerara feeder which supplies electricity to sections of the West Bank of Demerara laid this bare since electricity could not have been diverted; the feeders in place could not accommodate the load.
Speaking with sources familiar with the operations of the utility company, the lengthy scheduled delays have also been pinpointed as a result of the removal of the Wärtsilä managers.
It was explained that there are currently two generating sets down at the recently rehabilitated Kingston Plant and while it is common for such systems to undergo scheduled repairs, under the Wärtsilä Management the procurement of and installation of the critical components were completed within two weeks.
The two generating sets current down for repairs are not expected to be back up and running within weeks but rather months.
The lengthy scheduled delays have led in part to the load shedding phenomenon since the utility company at times does not have the generation capacity to meet the demands, especially during peak hours.
Ever since the change in management, the scheduled outages have now begun to take months at a time since the procurement of the components are often times delayed.
Tuesday’s unscheduled outage comes less than two weeks after the power company’s Public Relations Officer had promised an end to the chronic black outs currently besieging those connected to the national grid.
Social media has in recent weeks and months been abuzz with sometimes profanity laced statements by Guyanese voicing their displeasure at the incessant spate of blackouts being experienced.
The power company’s PRO, Shevion Sears had told members of the local media corps, when the Skeldon Wärtsilä units and the Co-Generator plant are fully functional, the available generating capacity is 137 megawatts. She noted that the total generating capacity in the DBIS is currently 106 megawatts.
“Which means we are operating with a generation shortfall of approximately three megawatts during the day peak, and six megawatts during the night peak,” she explained.
Giving a breakdown of the planned and unplanned maintenance work at the time, Sears said three engines at Garden of Eden were down for maintenance overhaul work.
One of these engines constitutes 5.5 megawatts, while the other two are 6.9 megawatts.