Nov 06, 2016 News
-as GPL tries to fix faults along Chinese-built transmission lines
Residents of the capital city and parts of Demerara are bracing for several hours of blackout today as technicians carry out emergency maintenance works on a critical high power transmission line linking the Kingston and
Sophia power stations.
The lines run from Kingston, Georgetown, along the Lamaha railway embankment to the Sophia power plant.
Commissioned only last year February, and built by Chinese contractor, CMC, the 69kv transmission line has been experiencing problems. It was blamed for shutdowns last month that saw widespread condemnation of the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL).
As the under-pressure GPL is carrying out checks to find the faults, it is also racing against time to repair a broken submarine power cable that CMC constructed across the Demerara River. It was damaged, reportedly by a dredging ship in July. This cut the supply of excess power from West Demerara to Georgetown.
Technical persons have been blaming the poor laying of the submarine power cable as one of the major causes for the current power woes facing the city. GPL has been forced to spend in excess of $150M to repair the cable with the parts expected in Guyana anytime now.
It was reported that GPL is giving CMC the job to fix the cable that was in the first place laid badly.
A key engineer report by a consultant had flagged the submarine cable work as being poorly thought out. There will be remedial works or another cable, maybe overhead, needed in the future.
The submarine cable across the Demerara River was one of two– the other was laid across the Berbice River– to create a grid in Berbice and Demerara.
CMC would have been contracted to also build seven sub-stations along with the transmission lines which have a fibre optic cable built in.
The entire project, commissioned in early 2015 by the previous administration would have cost Guyana up to US$40M.
GPL has been insisting that the recent outages are because of technical issues with the transmission and distribution network and not with its available power– it had enough of that.
CMC is now again on the scene as one of several companies vying for a major project to install more than 25,000 smart meters and run more transmission lines along the coast.
The tenders were opened since February but no awards have been made more than nine months later, sparking suspicion over the transparency of the process.
In recent weeks, in addition to Demerara, GPL has been facing hours of outages in Bartica, Region Seven and on the Essequibo Coast, Region Three.
The state-owned power company said it is procuring new engines and working on a plan to introduce alternative power for especially those areas.
On one occasion, Bartica, a mining community, was faced with over 30 hours of outages.
With regards to today’s scheduled maintenance, GPL said it intends to conduct a comprehensive maintenance exercise, in keeping with its Annual Maintenance Programme, on the medium voltage (11 kv, 50 Hz) and high voltage (69kv) transmission line linking the Kingston Power Stations to the Sophia Substation scheduled for Sunday November 6, 2016.
GPL explained that this planned maintenance exercise, expected to be of 10 hours duration, will affect areas on East Coast Demerara, East Bank Demerara and Georgetown as “switching activities to facilitate alternative supply arrangements” are carried out, and will result in some areas being without power for the duration of the exercise.
GPL announced also that to prevent an re-occurrence of the problems encountered with the Sophia and Kingston lines, starting next year it intends to commence construction of additional ones – a second 69kv transmission line linking Kingston substation and Sophia substation and another one linking Sophia, Good Hope and Columbia substations for the same reasons.
”These second lines will provide redundancies in the transmission network,” GPL said.
Four new substations will be constructed between 2017-2018 at Parika, East Bank Essequibo; Canal Number 2, West Bank Demerara; Kuru Kururu, East Bank Demerara and Williamsburg, East Bank Berbice.
GPL last week said that the majority of blackouts resulted from feeder trips. The company insisted that there is no shortage of generating capacity in the Demerara-Berbice Interconnection system, despite the Chinese-built submarine cable across the Demerara River being damaged. The damage has hampered excess power from West Bank being brought to the city.
There are other plans afoot, too, to safeguard the transmissions.
”The company plans to install electronic remote control devices on its distribution feeders in order to reduce the duration and frequency of these outages,” GPL said.
This would reduce the current level of manual intervention for fault detection, isolation of affected areas and fault correction.
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