MP Emmanuel proposes solution for GEBE outages to government

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Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Sint Maarten’s national power grid, managed by NV GEBE, is currently facing significant challenges due to aging infrastructure, high electricity demand, and recent generator failures. These issues have led to power shortages, load shedding practices, and widespread blackouts, which have severely impacted the island’s economy and quality of life.
To address these urgent concerns, a comprehensive approach aimed at assessing the current state of Sint Maarten’s power grid and generation systems must be conducted, followed by implementing both immediate and mid-term solutions to ensure a reliable power supply and enhance the grid’s efficiency and resilience.
On the initiative of Party Leader Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel, the Nation Opportunity Wealth (NOW) party has presented an initial plan to the government of St. Maarten to provide an immediate and mid-term solution. Emmanuel, through contacts in the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, was directed to the company Eco-Stone Construction and Engineering. He has been in constant contact with the company while he was in the Netherlands attending IPKO. Cost estimations for this proposal will be tabled following on-island assessments from the Eco-Stone team, if the government decides to go in this direction.
“The people of St. Maarten want to know that their government is looking at solutions for what they are currently going through. GEBE’s issues cannot be solved in a day. So, while the government is exploring options, the NOW party feels that it is our obligation to assist and offer alternatives for consideration by the government,” MP Emmanuel said.
Immediate Solution: Containerized Generators
To mitigate the immediate power generation shortfall, containerized Cummins generators will be deployed. Known for their reliability, efficiency, and ease of integration, Cummins generators are an ideal choice for this critical application. Each generator unit will have a capacity ranging from 1250 kVA to 2000 kVA, with dual pack configurations available for higher outputs. These diesel-powered generators are designed to be fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly, meeting Tier 4 Final compliance standards with advanced combustion technology to reduce emissions. Their super-silent design, with sound levels as low as 75 dB(A) at 7 meters, ensures minimal noise pollution.
The deployment plan involves several crucial steps. Firstly, suitable sites for generator installation will be identified and prepared, including the necessary infrastructure such as fuel storage, cooling systems, and electrical connections. Site surveys will assess ground conditions and accessibility. Following this, the transportation of the containerized generators from Trinidad and Tobago to Sint Maarten will be arranged, utilizing power boats or container ships for rapid deployment.
Once on-site, the generators will be positioned using cranes and other heavy equipment, then connected to the fuel supply, cooling systems, and electrical grid. Initial testing and calibration will ensure the generators operate within specified parameters, with load tests verifying their performance under actual operating conditions.
To ensure seamless integration with the existing power grid, appropriate switchgear and control systems will be used to connect the generators, ensuring proper synchronization with existing power generation units to maintain grid stability. Advanced control systems will manage the operation of the generators, including load sharing, frequency regulation, and voltage control, integrated with NV GEBE’s existing SCADA system for real-time monitoring and control. All electrical connections and installations will comply with relevant safety standards and regulations, with safety audits and inspections conducted to identify and mitigate any potential hazards.
A comprehensive operational and maintenance plan will be developed to ensure the continuous and reliable operation of the containerized generators. This includes implementing real-time monitoring systems to track the performance and health of the generators, using load management strategies to optimize their operation, and scheduling regular maintenance activities to keep them in peak condition. Predictive maintenance techniques, such as vibration analysis and thermal imaging, will be employed to identify potential issues before they lead to failures. Additionally, NV GEBE personnel will receive training on the operation and maintenance of the generators to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform routine and emergency maintenance tasks.
Mid-term Solution: Maintenance and Upgrades
A comprehensive maintenance schedule will be developed and implemented to ensure the long-term reliability and efficiency of Sint Maarten’s power generation infrastructure. This schedule will leverage the additional capacity provided by the containerized generators to perform necessary maintenance without disrupting the power supply.
Routine maintenance activities will be conducted on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis, including oil changes, filter replacements, lubrication of moving parts, and inspection of critical components. Detailed records of all maintenance activities will be maintained.
Predictive maintenance techniques, such as advanced diagnostic tools, continuous monitoring systems, and maintenance interventions based on predictive data, will be used to prevent unexpected breakdowns and extend the lifespan of equipment. A rapid response plan will be developed for addressing any unexpected equipment failures or issues, with spare parts and necessary tools readily available to minimize downtime.
Targeted infrastructure upgrades will also be undertaken to enhance the overall reliability and efficiency of the power grid. This will involve replacing critical equipment that has exceeded its technical lifespan or is prone to frequent failures with modern, high-performance alternatives. Control systems, switchgear, and other key components will be upgraded to improve system reliability and performance, with advanced automation and control technologies implemented to enhance grid management and reduce the risk of human error. The infrastructure will be strengthened to withstand severe weather conditions and other external threats, with redundancy introduced in critical systems to ensure continuous operation in the event of component failures.
To ensure the successful implementation and ongoing operation of the upgraded infrastructure, comprehensive training and support will be provided to NV GEBE personnel. This will include developing training programs covering the operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of new equipment and systems, conducting training sessions through a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on workshops, and on-the-job training, and offering certification programs to validate the skills and knowledge of NV GEBE personnel.
On-site technical support will be provided during the initial implementation phase to assist with equipment installation, testing, and commissioning, and a remote support system will be established to offer ongoing technical assistance and troubleshooting advice.
Comprehensive operation and maintenance manuals for all new equipment and systems will be developed, and a mentorship program will be implemented where experienced engineers and technicians provide guidance and support to less experienced personnel.
The NOW party believes that this comprehensive project represents a significant step forward in ensuring the stability and growth of Sint Maarten’s power grid, addressing immediate power generation shortfalls and laying the groundwork for a more reliable and efficient power infrastructure in the future.