Signs of hope on NL Hydro power plant woes

James McLeod
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There's a light at the end of the tunnel for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, with the weather getting a little warmer and more power plants ready to meet the province's demand for electricity.
Nalcor president and CEO Ed Martin gave an update Monday afternoon, and said things are looking cautiously optimistic when it comes to the Holbrook power plant and the small Hardwoods gas turbine plant in St. John's two critical pieces of electricity infrastructure that have been out of commission, plunging tens of thousands of Newfoundlanders into the dark.

But Martin said if things went according to plan, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro would start turning on Hardwoods Monday evening, and get the rest of it up and running this morning.

As for Holyrood, Nalcor is still working to get the plant up to full capacity. After the plant tripped and shut down Sunday night, plunging hundreds of thousands of people into darkness, Nalcor workers have been trying to figure out what went wrong.

We haven't yet totally identified what the issue was in the switchyard, Martin said. We won't make another move until we understand exactly what happened there. The unit in the power plant responsible is fully spun up and ready to go, but they won't use it until they find out what happened in the transformers and electrical switches which caused things to trip.

Until they know what went wrong, there's a risk that when they hook the generating unit back online, things could trip up again.

As for a second troubled unit at Holyrood, Nalcor has been waiting on a fan motor from the U.S. That motor came in and is being worked on at a shop in town, but since the overhaul of that unit also involves rewinding the motor, the work won't be finished until mid-January.

In the meantime, Martin said he asked Newfoundland Power to spare the shop in town working on the fan motor from any rolling blackouts so the work can keep moving. The other unit at Holyrood was having some problems of its own, with the big motor being unbalanced and vibrating at high speed, but Martin said they've managed to sort that out.

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Newfoundland Power

Geographic location: Holyrood

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