SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – NV GEBE stated in a press release on Tuesday that the company will be intensifying its community schedule maintenance program over the next couple months.
Scheduled maintenance is carried out by the Maintenance Department with the aid of the Execution Electrical Department in order to mitigate recurring and unplanned power outages. The high-voltage grid is designed in such a manner that parts of our network can be switched off for scheduled maintenance without impacting the electricity supply for all users.
So, when a transformer station needs to be maintained only the consumers connected to that transformer are compromised during the maintenance period. The new maintenance schedule is based on weekly maintenance on minimum two transformer station per week. The majority of these planned works will require a scheduled outage of six (6) to eight (8) hours that will affect several areas of the community. Areas with e.g., schools and or high priority consumers are only maintained during the weekends.
The NV GEBE electrical grid consists of several distribution components. These components are the sub-stations, transformer stations, meter walls and the cables that connect all together. The sub-stations are connected via transmission cables from the Power Plant with a voltage of 12,000 kV.
These cables are connected to a high-voltage switch which has outgoing high-voltage cables that supply electricity to as many as 500+ transformer stations on the island. In the transformer station the high-voltage to be transformed to low-voltage electricity which is 127 / 220 Volts – 60Hz. On the meter wall the low-voltage cables are connected in a distribution box which provides the electricity meters.
Interim Manager of Distribution Department, Patrick Drijvers, stated that both technical departments (Electrical and Water) have gone through big developments and educational processes in the employee training program.
The Execution Electrical Department was the first group to be trained and certified in high voltage. Recertification is compulsory every four years to be able to work on the electrical network. NV GEBE takes the safety and education of its staff very serious as operation and maintenance work is paramount and shutting down parts of the high voltage grid involves a number of personnel that have to follow strict procedures.
The NV GEBE water grid consists of, Water Tanks, Pump Stations, valves and service points. The water tanks are connected by coated ductile water lines (main lines) from the water production facilities in Cay Bay, Cupecoy and Point Blanche. Pumps stations are used for pumping water into tanks and supplying water to consumers who live in high areas.
From the main lines secondary lines are connected which feed the consumers through a water meter. These secondary lines are made of HDPE (plastic). The water grid also needs to be maintained to be able provide continuous water service to the customers. This is coordinated by the Maintenance Department with the aid of the Execution Water Department.
The Execution Water Department also got the necessary technical training in the water sector. Trainings focused on knowledge of material type, installation methods and techniques, types of tools and equipment for the respective installation types.
In order to execute the (maintenance) work on both utility grids, NV GEBE is making sure that the required tools and equipment, to make the work a success, are available for the technicians. Having the right tools (education, tools and equipment) on hand, makes the work so much easier which reduces downtime and inconvenience to the consumers.
NV GEBE will keep certifying and training its technicians to be able to provide a better-quality service on its network and to its customers.
Before any maintenance work is executed the customers will be notified in advance of the scheduled outage for each area via the NV GEBE Facebook page and several media outlets.