Our electrical tab just keeps growing. Last August, Newfoundland Hydro said it needed to do $98 million in capital work in 2014 — that was before the January blackouts. Since then, the utility has argued it needs a $119-million combustion turbine for Holyrood and a new power line from Bay d’Espoir, price tag $219.7 million, as well as a new power line in Labrador that’s ballparked at $300 million.
On June 19, the utility went back to the Public Utilities Board with five new capital projects which, between them, will mean a 15 per cent hike in Hydro’s capital budget this year.
While the costs may not be as significant as new power lines, the requests for work are revealing, if for no other reasons than the questions the work raises. Here are some parts of the applications.
“Fluid samples were taken from all seven operating excitation transformers in Bay d’Espoir during 2013 to provide information on the condition of these transformers to refine the asset replacement plan. The results of the analysis of these samples were received in February 2014 and show that the excitation transformers on Unit 1 through 6 have approached their reliable service life and that Unit 7 has exceeded its normal reliable service life. The fluid analysis results show that the excitation transformers need to be replaced in an expedited manner to reduce the risk of another in-service failure and to ensure system reliability. The excitation transformers are a critical component of the Bay d’Espoir generating station …”
Replacement cost? $1 million.
Then there’s a new discovery, along 126 kilometres of high-voltage transmission lines.
“Since January 12, 2014, numerous insulator pin failures occurred on both transmission lines TL-201 and TL-203. A complete insulator inspection determined that TL-201 had significant corrosion on the insulator pins along the entire line and that TL-203 had isolated sections with significant corrosion. Hydro is recommending that all of the insulators on TL-201 be replaced and that 30 insulators on TL-203 be replaced. … The estimated cost of this project is $3,632,200.”
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Then there’s the sudden need for capital expenditures in Wabush.
“Currently transformer T5 is not available for service due to increased moisture levels in the transformers oil and insulation. With T5 out of service, the capacity is reduced to 20.6 MVA. According to Hydro’s Operation Load Forecast for Wabush, peak demand is forecasted to reach 21.7 MW during the winter of 2014/2015. This exceeds the current available transformation capacity of the Wabush Substation. … The estimated cost of this project is $958,800.”
Then, there’s the start of the repairs and improvements discovered as a result of last winter’s power failure.
“The replacement of the T1 transformer and associated damaged equipment, along with installation of a new 230 kV breaker and modifications to the protection relays at the Sunnyside Terminal Station, are required to ensure that Hydro can continue to provide safe, reliable and adequate service from this essential facility. This project will be carried out over a two-year period (2014/2015). The total estimated cost of this project is $8,424,200.
“The completion of the tap changer replacement on transformer T5 at the Western Avalon Terminal Station is required to ensure that Hydro can continue to provide safe, reliable and adequate service from this essential facility. The estimated cost of this project is $1,452,500.”
That’s $14.5 million in expenses that weren’t expected less than a year ago.
Every transformer at one station. Every insulator on a main feeder line.
It sounds like more than a little overdue maintenance. And who will pay?