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Generator failure causes widespread power outages

Generator failure causes widespread power outages

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Vincentians are expected to have to grimace a bit longer over electricity outages. It may well be for another entire week, as it is expected to take that long before St. Vincent Electricity Services Ltd., popularly called VINLEC, gets the situation that has been causing outages over large areas of mainland St. Vincent resolved.

On Saturday, August 12, VINLEC’s largest generating set kicked out causing widespread electricity disruption.{{more}}

A press statement from the utility company on Wednesday stated that the breakdown has occurred at a time when other key units’ generating capacity “cannot compensate for the loss of our largest generator”. An earlier press release from Vinlec had stated that these other key units “require essential maintenance thus compounding the situation.”

Wednesday’s press release, signed by Manager, Finance, Juliette Hinds-Wilson, disclosed that VINLEC has determined that a major replacement engine component must be brought in from its European manufacturers to expedite restoration.

“It is to be airlifted, with anticipated arrival in St.Vincent on Tuesday, 22 August 2006. We then expect to be able to restore the generator to operation by 27 August 2006 latest,” Hind-Wilson noted.

The release added that as a result of the failure, VINLEC is unable to meet its daily system peak demand and must continue to interrupt supply to its customers on a rotating basis. It promised that the needs of the business sector and sensitive institutions will be given the necessary priority and generally the timing of the interruption will be scheduled to minimize as much as possible the inconvenience to its consumers.

In June VINLEC announced that it is expecting to provide a more efficient electricity supply by September this year with the commissioning of the new EC$100 million Lowmans Bay Power plant.

Julian Francis, Minister with responsibility for VINLEC in March 2003, announced at the time that two generators had been purchased following the nationwide disruption of electricity in August 2002. Francis warned then, that was just a stop gap measure rather than a permanent solution.

And Francis back then, sharing some of the contents of a final report of a management consulting firm which was contracted to conduct an audit on corporate maintenance safety and management practices at VINLEC, had also warned that the factors which had contributed to the 2002 problems were still in place and further failures were likely if they were not corrected.

The Minister had disclosed that the casual factors were more organizational than technical.

“They are more managerial failures than equipment failures, and they are more people related than machine related,” the Minister had said.

He added: “They have created a situation in which maintenance of generating equipment is not adequately planned and structured, resulting in excessive degradation in capability, availability and eventually expected life of the units.”

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