Manager of Wartsila engines taking blame for 1 in 10 blackouts

-says remainder due to distribution system

Arron Fraser

With the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) blaming faulty equipment such as generators for the spate of blackouts last year, head of Power Producers and Distributors Inc. (PPDI),  which manages GPL generators, Arron Fraser says they are responsible for one out of every 10 blackouts which the country experiences.

During the power company’s presentation on their Operating Standards and Performance targets to the Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday, Deputy CEO (Technical) Elwyn Marshall said that their inability to meet their operational targets was due to faulty equipment and generator problems.

Marshall stated that  “premature defects” to three of their 6.9MW generators at the Kingston Power Plant, resulted in one being out of operation from April to October last year.

Speaking to Stabroek News on Thursday, Fraser said that due to PPDI having a more comprehensive maintenance programme for the generators and engines, they were able to detect that one of the generators had extensive damage and had to be shipped to the manufacturer in Miami to be repaired.

“We had started to take more precautionary actions and expanded the scope of maintenance. Back in the days, we didn’t separate the generators from the engines and do inspection. But now we have increased the scope of maintenance and separated the generators, and there was damage to the generator which meant it had to be shipped to the manufacturer so it was out for a little time,” Fraser said, while adding that even though they are doing the same for all of their generators, none of the others had extensive damage.

As a result, he said, they were without some 6.9MW generation due to one of their generators being away, which he conceded would’ve resulted in the spate of blackouts which the country experienced last year.

“It would be unfair for me to say that all the blackouts are due to issues in the distribution system. We hold some responsibility for some blackouts and on average, one out of every 10 comes from us, but the majority is because of distribution,” Fraser acknowledged.

He also pointed out that since the systems from Parika to Skeldon are interconnected, whenever the Warstila engines in Skeldon experience a problem the entire system is shut down.

With respect to the other engines and their maintenance, Fraser explained that while they had to do some repairs, they did not suffer any extensive damage which would have put them out of operation like the one isolated event.

“As we speak we are doing similar maintenance at the number two engine at Vreed-en-Hoop which is down. We are doing works to the alternator, but whatever works we have to do could be done on the ground,” he said, while adding that they do not expect any other engine will need major maintenance and the current work at Vreed-en-Hoop is expected to be completed by the second week in April.

PPDI  last year took over the managing of 16 Wartsila engines with a total capacity of 104 MWs from Wartsila Operations Guyana Inc.

PPDI has said that it is up to the task and can deliver the same type of performance as the previous Finnish-owned enterprise.

While GPL had set a target of 75 for the System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI), which is the average number of interruptions that a customer would experience, they were only able to achieve 128 for last year, an increase from the previous year’s figure of 118.6.

For the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), which is the average outage duration for each customer served, the power company had set a target of 85 hours, but reported 133 hours, an increase from 2016’s figure of 125.8 hours. The actual figure is way above what had been projected.

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