Hydro takes action for next winter; unrelated events caused outages
Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has submitted its report to the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities (PUB) looking at events that led to widespread power failures and rolling blackouts affecting most of the island in early January.
Monday was Hydro’s deadline to submit the report, which includes several recommendations, some of which the Crown corporation will look to implement soon for the benefit of next winter’s energy supply.
Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro vice-president Rob Henderson (left) joined president and CEO Ed Martin Monday in St. John’s to discuss the findings of a review on power outages and rolling blackouts that affected most of the island earlier this year.
— Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram
“I want to ensure that we don’t go through events of this nature again,” said Ed Martin, president and CEO for Hydro and its parent company Nalcor Energy. “I want you to know we are committed to ensuring a reliable electricity system and rebuilding customer confidence in the provincial electricity system with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
The report includes what Hydro is calling four key recommendations in response to the events that took place in January.
It will submit a proposal to the PUB to acquire upwards of 100 megawatts of additional generation capacity on the Avalon Peninsula in time for next winter.
Martin told reporters Monday that will be achieved through the use of an additional gas turbine and accessing generation from large industrial customers.
The process to replace 230-kilovolt (kV) breakers will be accelerated for the 2014 maintenance season, and the existing preventative maintenance program for those breakers will be reviewed.
“The 230 kV breakers played a central role in both the initial system disruption on Jan. 4 and the outages that occurred after that,” said Martin.
Hydro’s critical spares philosophy pertaining to its generation assets — or its key parts needed in the event of a breakdown — will be reviewed. Any necessary changes identified through that review will be implemented before next winter. Improvements identified by Hydro’s Critical Spares Council last year will also be implemented.
The failure of a forced draft fan motor caused unit three at the Holyrood generation facility to only generate 50 MW instead of 150 MW in the leadup to the outages.
Gas turbine overhaul
Hydro is also looking to clew up work to overhaul its gas turbines in Hardwoods near Paradise and in Stephenville, and preventative maintenance protocols for gas turbines will be reviewed. A fuel supply valve failure at Hardwoods left its turbine unavailable during the outages. At the same time, the Stephenville turbine was only providing 25 MW instead of 50 MW.
“While the availability of these gas turbines in January would not have prevented the outages, it is important to ensure these generating plants are available when they are needed.”
Elsewhere, Hydro is looking to review its updated short-term seven-day operating forecast to see whether it gives a clearer picture for extreme cold weather situations. It may look at alternative models if that’s found not to be the case.
A formal protocol for informing the public about pending supply issues will also be put in place. Martin hinted that process may look to see if a more exact timeline can be shared with customers in the event rolling blackouts appear to be on the horizon.
On the issue of future rotating outages, Martin said Hydro is taking steps to ensure they become a thing of the past, though he could not say with 100 per cent certainty the province has seen the last of them.
Martin said the review did find the vast majority of Hydro’s electricity system performed as it should, but added it was a series of unplanned and unrelated events that caused power supply disruptions.
As of Saturday, Hydro’s total generation capacity was 1,615 MW. Over the last week, peak demand has ranged from approximately 1,050 MW to 1,400 MW.