Shutdown of new generator resulted in Saturday outage

PHILIPSBURG–A shutdown of the recently installed new generator at utilities company GEBE was the reason for the power outages residents and businesses experienced on Saturday, February 11.

GEBE provided the information in a press release on Sunday evening, and not too long after the release was issued several areas were plunged into darkness with another outage.

GEBE said in its release that its diesel generator set #20 gave an alarm at 11:07am on February 11 and a few seconds later the engine received a shutdown command from the UNIC software.  

The shutdown created a sudden imbalance, affecting the stability of the distribution grid and this activated automatic load-shedding to stabilise the power in the grid. This, GEBE said, led to a large section of the country being affected. It was not a total blackout.

GEBE said it has had some challenges with the software of the new engine and has been in contact with the engine manufacturer Wärtsilä to see what could be the cause and possible solution to this.

Wärtsilä is looking into this problem at present and, according to Wärtsilä, “We have observed that something happens to the parameter engine speed reference during a disturbance. This could be why the engine loses load. To understand the reason, there is need for a UNIC engineer at site cooperating with Wärtsilä technical service.”

The technical engineer arrived in the country over the weekend and will be looking into this issue and to resolve it. UNIC is a new software used by engine manufacturers to control engines.

“When the incident took place NV GEBE mechanics were busy servicing an 11-megawatt engine and resorted to cutting the service short in order to reduce the load-shedding. The servicing will take place at a later date,” GEBE said.  

Diesel generator set #20 has a one-year warranty as per contract to ensure that GEBE receives “the best results from this unit.” The issues experienced on February 11 are covered by warranty, GEBE said.

GEBE also has a team from Wärtsilä on site assisting with the mechanical maintenance on and overhaul of a smaller unit.

GEBE apologises to its customers and the community for the inconvenience caused by the outages over the past weeks.

Source: The Daily Herald