PHILIPSBURG–Issues with three generators/engines, including Engine #19, at utilities company GEBE resulted in widespread load-shedding over the weekend, much to the chagrin of residents who had suffered power outages for several days last week after one of the same engines (#19) was down due to a part that needed to be replaced.
The issues resulted in residents planning a protest outside GEBE’s main office on Walter Nisbeth Road on Monday and starting an online petition about the outages (see related story).
Some districts were without power for three or more hours on Saturday, had current back for a short while and were without power again for another extended period. Many residents took to social media sites such as Facebook to express their frustration over the frequent outages.
GEBE’s recently appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kenrick Chittick told The Daily Herald late Sunday that GEBE had been forced to stop Engine #19 on Friday night into Saturday morning as the exhaust gas temperatures on all of its cylinders had increased to a level where the engine would have tripped eventually if corrective measures were not taken.
He said the electricity load had been reduced and the engine had been stopped to be cooled down and inspected. The repairs took more than 12 hours before the unit could be put back into operation around 1:00am Sunday.
Also on Sunday, GEBE had scheduled some work on its Engine #17, as its output had been reduced pending service to the engine and turbo charger at the same time.
“All fuel injectors needed to be serviced and we were not able to postpone this and had to make a choice over the weekend to do the maintenance when load is lowest on Sunday or during the week when the demand is much higher,” Chittick explained.
He said also that Engine #16 had been out of operation for several weeks now for a “major overhaul,” which is expected to be completed within a week or two. He said the overhaul had taken longer than expected because connecting rods that were measured during the overhaul resulted in it “being out of limits (by nine pieces).”
Chittick said the parts were available in the Netherlands and were expected to be delivered to St. Maarten by air this week and were expected to be measured once here so that the engine could be put back in operation early in the week of November 27. Engine #16 supplies the country with eight megawatts of electricity.
Engines #19 and #16, both down on Saturday, supply a combined total of 19 megawatts of electricity to the country, while Engines #17 and 16 supply a combined total of 16 megawatts of electricity.
“The works that were carried out over the weekend resulted in NV GEBE load-shedding and for that we do apologise for the inconvenience caused,” Chittick said. “Our technicians worked very hard with long stressful hours under all circumstances to get our operations back to normal. The crew that worked Saturday from 8:00am to 12:30am (16 hours) on DG #19 were back on the job on Sunday at 8:00am to complete DG #17.”
He said work on Engine #20 “is progressing well. The plan is to start the engine in the first/second week [of December – Ed.] for testing etc., run it for one week online and the final handing over right after that. Once DG #20 is online NV GEBE will have a much more stable operation.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/61720-issues-with-engines-cause-weekend-load-shedding