Birds disrupting electricity supply from power ship – GPL

…8-hour power outage scheduled for Friday to fix issue

The recent instances of blackouts experienced across the country were as a result of the disruption of power supply from the 36-megawatt floating power plant to the national grid. This disruption was caused by birds. In order to permanently address the issue, electricity will be off for some eight hours this Friday to facilitate the necessary work. It was only recently that the 36-megawatt power ship that is docked at Everton, East Bank Berbice was connected to the national grid, with a promise of significantly reducing instances of blackouts and other forms of power disruptions countrywide. However, for this week alone, there have been numerous cases of power outages throughout the Demerara Berbice Inter-Connected System. The Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) said that these disruptions were caused by damage to its transmission lines, some of which were caused by birds. One affected line is the L21 line, which transmits power between the Canefield and Onverwagt Power Stations. It is the same line that has been connected to the power ship to supply power to the national grid. Berbice Zone Manager for GPL, Ravindra Jagnanan said the birds are believed to be vultures, with a 3-foot wing span that caused the line to trip. “We would have experienced some of our recent trips on these transmission lines and of recent on the L21 line where vultures plucked the wooden structures or they actually plucked the transmission tower which is located on the West Bank of the Berbice River. When these vultures do that, they come in contact with the live component of the tower which are the conductors and they cause power diversion from the lines to the metal frame,” Jagnanan explained. He noted that this causes breakers to trip, resulting in power outages. The GPL official said an overseas-based company, with experience in building tower shields and bird deterrents has been contacted to provide assistance. GPL has since purchased conductor shields and bird deterrents and they have already been shipped. “We are at the point where we are going to have those items installed on the tower at West Berbice where are seeing most of the birds. Once we would have tested them and we are sure that all are properly fitting on the tower, we will be ordering the rest for the other three towers.” 8-hour power outage Meanwhile, in order to have the shields and deterrents installed, power will have to be disconnected from the power lines. Jagnanan said it will be off for eight hours on Friday, affecting locations countrywide. The utility company will be using this downtime to also carry out maintenance to other aspects of its network. Speaking of another challenge confronting the power company, the zone manger pointed out that the L 22 which is situated off-road connects Canefield and Number 53 Power Stations. This, Jagnanan said, has created a lot of challenges for GPL. Accessibility to the network is one of the major challenges. Currently some lines are inaccessible since lorries and even tractors cannot get the crew, they can only get to them by foot. According to him the challenge this also poses is by machines working in close proximity to the transmission lines, most of which are excavators and farming equipment. “When there are contractors cleaning the canals or we have this cultivation machinery; grain carts, combines and so forth, they would come in contact with the network and that would cause some trips also,” he added. Those issues Jagnanan pointed out are the main challenges affecting the transmission network across the Berbice area. Floating power plant The floating power plant arrived in Guyana on May 1 and was docked at Everton on the East Bank of Berbice in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), where it will be stationed for the next two years as it sends electricity into the Demerara Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS). In April, GPL signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Qatar-based Urbacon Concessions Investments, W.L.L (UCI) for the rental of the 36-MW floating power plant for two years in a move to add much-needed capacity to the grid. While the rental deal was signed with UCI, the power ship is owned by Turkey-based Karpowership International. As part of this agreement, GPL has already paid a US$1 million mobilisation fee. The power company also has to pay a fee of US 6.62 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) as a monthly charter fee for the power ship and a monthly operation and maintenance fee of US 0.98 cents per kWh based on electricity generated. GPL is also required to provide Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) for the operation of the generators onboard the vessel. The State-owned power company has been experiencing generation shortfalls due to an unprecedented rise in electricity demand coupled with challenges from its aged equipment. In March, two of GPL’s engines failed disrupting power generation across the country. Before this vessel was connected to the grid, GPL was generating about 165 megawatts of power. However, the peak demand is about 180 megawatts. (G4)