GPL shuts down Garden of Eden Plant on emergency basis

…load-shedding instituted in some areas

The Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) was forced to shut down its power plant at Garden of Eden, East Bank Demerara (EBD), on Friday to undergo an emergency mechanical inspection at the facility.

Prime Minister Brig (Ret’d) Mark Phillips with GPL CEO Bharrat Dindyal and other officials at the Garden of Eden power plant on Friday evening

Chief Executive Officer of GPL, Bharrat Dindyal explained to reporters on Friday that the heavy fuel which is being used at the plant is getting into the exhaust system. This prompted officials to shut down the five Wärtsilä generators that only started operating late last year.
“If we continue to operate, there is a chance that the fuel accumulates in the turbocharger, you could have a big explosion. You could destroy the engine, it could kill people in the vicinity so the decision was taken to immediately shut the plant down,” he added.
When contacted, Minister within the Public Works Ministry, Deodat Indar told Guyana Times that, “It’s a matter of safety because if that thing explodes, you’ll have issues… So, it’s better you shut it down and fix it and then see to bring it up back”.
According to the Public Works Minister, with these generators down, there will be some strain on the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS).
“You’re taking off 46.5MW off of the grid, so it will have an impact but we’re trying to make sure we minimise it as far as we can,” he assured.
Already, GPL, in a notice, has indicated that the unavailability of 46.5MW will impact the available generation capacity within the DBIS and result in load-shedding in some areas.
Initially on Friday, the power company disclosed that the affected areas are Garden of Eden to Timehri on the East Bank; Leonora to De Kinderen on the West Coast of Demerara (WCD), and from Boerasiria to Naamryck on the East Bank of Essequibo (EBE). The disruptions were expected between 18:00h and 22:00h.
However, GPL said its engineers will continue to review the company’s available generation capacity against the projected demand over the coming days to determine whether further load-shedding will be required.
But the CEO has cautioned consumers to take the necessary precautions while experiencing these bouts of load-shedding.
Meanwhile, Dindyal and a team of GPL technicians were at the plant on Friday working along with Wärtsilä technicians to oversee the gradual shut down of the five generators. These are highly efficient Wärtsilä 34DF dual-fuel engines, which can utilise heavy fuel oil and natural gas simultaneously, with a 9.3MW capacity each.
Also at the Garden of Eden plant was Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, who is responsible for the energy sector. He praised engineers who detected the issue early on and prevented a potential catastrophe.
“They are the ones who operate and monitor these new generators, and they are the ones who were able to feedback management as to some of the observations that they saw in operating,” he noted.
PM Phillips added, “I want the people of Guyana to understand that this [shut down] is a safety precaution and is necessary that we shut down these plants and we do further checks. So, we may have some load-shedding but as we go through the checks and satisfy ourselves, that is, the GPL technicians working with the Wärtsilä management and technicians… and they rectify the problem, we will [then] move to a point where we can bring back onstream the 46.5MW.”
According to the Prime Minister, this process to diagnose and address the source of the issue can take days or even weeks. This, he explained, is because the generators would take some time to cool down, possibly days, before the technicians can start their inspections.
In the meanwhile, the old plant at the Garden of Eden location will be put into use to boost the DBIS capacity. That plant has a generating capacity of some 25MW.
At a ‘soft commissioning’ when the five engines were powered up for the first time in August last year for a test run, the GPL CEO had explained that when the system is under stress, issues such as leaks could arise.
Finland-based Wärtsilä is running and operating the $10 billion state-of-the-art dual-fuel power plant. But the operation and maintenance (O&M) agreement also caters for the Wärtsilä technical team to train local personnel.
Only last July, however, there was an explosion at the one of the transformers at the old Garden of Eden plant.
GPL had explained that a 16.7 MVA transformer at the EBD facility caught on fire resulting in all power generating units at that site shutting down. The loss of the plant’s 27MW caused a cascading effect, disrupting service to customers on the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System.