Power failure report in PUB’s hands

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Andrew Robinson
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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.

 

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Weblink: http://bit.ly/1h29LGV

Organizations: Nalcor Energy, Critical Spares Council

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, January.It, Stephenville Paradise

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Recent comments

  • Maurice E. Adams
    March 25, 2014 - 10:28

    If readers go to www.vision2041.com, NEWS page (Jan. 9th entry) you will see a graphic showing that non-industrial load (over the 10-year time period from 2001 to 2010) shifted from 82% of the total load to 97% by 2010. If a lay-person like me can identify (just days after the January outages) such a shift in off-Avalon to on-Avalon load as an issue that should have been addressed long before now (known since at least 2010), why is it only now that part of Mr. Martin's fix is to "access... generation from large industrial customers", and why did he cancel a 3rd line from western Newfoundland?---------- Easy, it would not have been in the best interest of Muskrat Falls to have offered up a plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face solution that would have negated any rational argument for a multi-billion dollar Muskrat Falls boondoggle.

  • Me-old-stick-in-the-mud
    March 25, 2014 - 08:41

    My Quebec teaching colleagues here in Newfoundland, tease me in their terrible French/English accent by saying, we hear the “derriere” of your fellow Newfies is freez ing. What is the prob lem, Johnie? No elec tricity! We can always sell you some elec tricity from “our” Churchill Falls, Labrador.” You (petite) little Newfiefies must not catch cold.” The 1969 power contract, signed 40 years ago, between Hydro-Quebec and the Churchill Falls Labrador Corporation (CFLCo), becomes automatically renewable in 2016 with arrangements predetermined. Thanks to a Mr. Donald Gordon, CFLCo chairman, and CFLOo’s management of the day. The contract reads that most all the power must be sold to Hydro-Québec at an extremely low price. Basically, it amounts to a contract “piggybacked” onto a contract. During the renewal period the price is pre-set at $2 per megawatt hour (MWh). Even in the late 1960s, a price of $2 was extraordinarily low! In 2003, Hyro-Quebec received an average of apx. $85. per megawatt hour MWh! That was the rate 11 years ago! They buy the electricity from Newfoundland for $2. per (MWh), and will continue, after the 2016 contract renewal, to buy it at that rate for another 25 years! Actually, 50-75 years in the future! It is unlikely that Newfoundland will even cover its operating costs at Churchill Falls after the contract is renewed in 2016, making it necessary for us “Newfies” to subsidize Hydro Quebec far into the future! Yes, certainly, Joey Smallwood deserves blame, but, it appears it was CFLCo that sold the shop, and mortgaged its assets. Not to exonerate Joey, whatsoever, but, it appears, Joey was only told about the final contract by Chairman CFLCo Donald Gordon, after a “fait accompli’ - the contract had been signed. The renewal clause has received practically no public attention and has not been an issue in past litigation! Even Danny, could not rescue us. Who can he put those Frenchmen’s’ derriere, finally, in their place? Quebec separation talk is surfacing again, as they head into an election on April 7. For me, they can’t separate quickly enough! However, they never, never will separate! They know, well, what side their bread is buttered on, and, a lot of that butter is made right here in Newfoundland and Labrador. By the way, FYI, Madame Madame Malois who is the current premier of la belle province, and, who is leading the separatists charge in the April 7 election, apparently, recently sold her 41 acre estate in Montreal for 6.5 million. She was asking $8 million. No trouble for her to pay her hydro bill. Me-old-stick-in-the-mud [nom de plume]

  • Maurce E. Adams
    March 25, 2014 - 08:15

    There are at least 2 good reasons why Ed Martin should be fired --1) Nalcor withdrew its application to build a 3rd line to bring the approx. 200 MW of UNUSED available power from the western part of the island to the Avalon, and ...2) Now he is proposing to build another 100 MW of thermal generation on or near the Avalon and leave our existing, stranded capacity on the western part of the island UNUSED ---- further driving up our rates. ---- At what cost? How many hundred million?

  • Corporate Psycho
    March 25, 2014 - 07:42

    Same old same old. Heads should have rolled. Nothing has changed. Pure lip service.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    March 25, 2014 - 06:49

    We have a Nalcor reported 1,946 MW of total island capacity on the island. Our total island peak demand in 2013 was 1,650 (almost 300 MW less than out capacity --- UNUSED). Nalcor withdrew their application to build a 3rd line that could carry our already existing EXCESS power to the Avalon, and now it wants to build another 100 MW of generation capacity on or near the Avalon. And we pay for it.