Confirms cause of damaging winter breakdown of power plant generator
Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has completed an investigation and repair work at the Holyrood Thermal Generating Station, in response to damage incurred during a Jan. 11 storm.
Rob Henderson, vice-president of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, speaks with reporters about the final report into the failure of one of their generating units this past January. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
As promised, the utility has submitted a detailed report to the Public Utilities Board (PUB) on the findings from its investigation into the failure of the massive fuel-driven Unit 1 — one of three generating units at the power plant.
The report is posted on Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro’s website.
Earlier this year, the PUB approved spending to overhaul Unit 1 to get it up and running for the coming winter. The unit has been out of service since its breakdown.
“The repairs for the damage was originally estimated to be about $13.5 million and right now our estimate is it’s going to be about $10 million,” said Rob Henderson, vice-president of Hydro, taking questions from reporters at Hydro Place in St. John’s Thursday.
The cost estimate as of Apr. 4 — when Hydro offered a look at the damaged generator — was about $13.2 million, making the final figure well over $3 million less than expected.
The plant is now in good shape for winter, Henderson said.
Hydro’s investigation showed the unusual damage to Unit 1 followed a disruption of the power feed into the plant during the mid-winter storm.
The major equipment began switching automatically to protective back-up systems and generating units started to wind down. However, there was a failure in an internal system pushing lubricating oil into the first generating unit. As a result, the machine heated up and ground its insides.
There were heavy vibrations and fires.
The six operators inside the plant dealt with the situation and there were no injuries.
Henderson said new maintenance procedures have since been adopted, going beyond any manufacturer requirements.
“So now we’re very confident that we’d identify any similar problem in future,” he said.
And while it was not part of the PUB filing, he said Hydro has also reviewed its human response procedures and plant safety.
The site is typically staffed with on-site emergency response teams. However, as reported, the difficult weather kept staff from arriving at the plant for work on the day in question.
As an example of changes made, Henderson said, on-site emergency response technicians may be dispatched to the plant early in the case of a winter storm where travel is expected to become difficult.