VROMI Minister Wever (second left) standing with GEBE engineers, with the new piston and three rings that were rushed in from Aruba and St. Lucia.
CAY BAY–Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI, Chris Wever visited the utilities company GEBE power plant on Saturday morning to get updates on the power supply woes GEBE has been experiencing in recent days.
GEBE chief executive officer (CEO) Kenrick Chittick met Wever at the power plant and gave him a full overview of the efforts of his team, some of whom had worked throughout the day and night on Friday and returned early Saturday to complete the task of restoring a damaged engine.
“Our residents and businesses depend exclusively on GEBE for their water and electricity supply. As the shareholder representative, I will work with GEBE to ensure that they have the necessary resources to get the job done,” Wever said, also noting it is essential that GEBE’s service is provided to the “satisfaction of our people.”
“While mechanical equipment will often malfunction, it is incumbent on GEBE to keep the public abreast of the situation and do its utmost to restore power swiftly,” Wever said after the visit.
Chittick told Wever on Saturday that a piston liner failure on one of the engines had resulted in an automatic shutdown. Following this occurrence, GEBE had to manage its reduced energy supply level by resorting to load-shedding in certain areas.
Much like a car, the generator engines that supply electrical power to St. Maarten use pistons, with piston rings for compression. The failsafe for these engines worked effectively in shutting down the system to prevent further damage after the piston liner failure was detected.
Once the engineers removed the damaged piston and piston rings, the next challenge was to source replacement parts. Chittick said that cooperation between GEBE and St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited LUCELEC and Water and Energy Company WEB Aruba had resulted in the swift arrival of the new piston and piston rings.
The engineers were busy unpacking the new parts on Saturday when Wever and his delegation arrived at the scene. Wever thanked the men for their dedication to the people of St. Maarten and said they were examples of what defines St. Maarten.
“We have always been a people who show our true strength of character when it is crunch time, without fail,” he said.
Wever wanted to find out whether there was any truth to the allegation that GEBE was unfairly selective in deciding who gets left without electricity when it does load-shedding. He said many people were concerned that their areas were being left without power for extended periods while others never experienced outages during load-shedding.
Chittick explained that the new system GEBE installed four years ago ensures that controllers can see where there is an increase or decrease in power. The system helps control room operators to properly manage the load to ensure that it is evenly distributed. The challenge at times is that some areas, such as dense industrial locations and areas where large businesses operate, need more energy at certain points in the day.
However, once the new piston is installed, the engine will go back online, adding even more power to the grid, said GEBE in a press release.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/90495-gebe-receives-new-piston-outages-should-be-resolved