PHILIPSBURG. Sint Maarten – Technicians at the NV GEBE Cay Bay Power Plant on Tuesday had to implement load shedding measures due to mechanical issues with one of the oldest and smallest generators. Technicians have since resolved the problem.
Technicians initially started working on resolving mechanical challenges that developed with DG-18 on Sunday morning around 5.00AM, which resulted in load shedding on Sunday and Monday.
Once the generator developed a mechanical failure, prior to technicians starting to work on DG-18, a cool down period is necessary. This requirement is based on the health and safety of the workers.
Removal and assembly of the failed parts took place within an eight hour period. Once completed, the unit was put through a running program to ensure that there was no sudden loading or stress on the newly installed components. On Monday evening around 9.30PM the last cable came back online.
Power generation units DG-7 and DG-19 are currently offline due to a major overhaul of those units. Technical crews are working with two crews from the engine manufacturer to reduce downtime of the generators currently undergoing scheduled overhaul.
Priority has been given to get DG-19 back online as soon as possible as DG-7 requires more time. DG-19 is one of the newest engines, and this unit will take approximately two weeks before it comes back online. The technical work on DG-19 has to be done at preset intervals to avoid engine failure that could have led to engine damage.
An overhaul of a generator normally takes four to five weeks and with the additional manpower, technicians are aiming for three to four weeks.
NV GEBE also has technicians working at night when demand is low to do some minor repairs to generators which would not affect electricity demand and supply.
Load shedding becomes necessary when the production capacity cannot meet the load demand of consumers. In order to have a stable electricity production network, it is imperative to switch out some areas in order to be able to have a stable system. If this does not happen, this would lead to a complete black out.
Because the country has one power plant, this is a challenge faced by small island developing states. Larger countries have several power plants which can act as a back-up should one or more units go offline.
In the future, if NV GEBE loses its largest production unit DG-19 (once back online) and another large unit goes offline, the chances are that load shedding would be implemented as a measure. The outage period for load shedding is shared throughout the districts and is usually one hour to 90 minutes.
NV GEBE Managing Board apologizes to customers for the inconvenience that the current challenges have caused.