Published On: Sat, Jun 1st, 2024

GEBE no longer meets requirements of industry standards

PHILIPSBURG — Three diesel engines, or 30 percent of the total, have exceeded their technical lifespan of thirty years, Utilities Company GEBE stated in a press release in an attempt to clarify the issues it is facing with seemingly never-ending power cuts or, in GEBE-lingo: load shedding.

The three units represent 18 percent of GEBE’s operational capacity. “They are still operational and serve as peak shavers to meet daily demand but they are less efficient and unreliable,” the press release states. “They are a primary cause of reduced efficiency.”

The company points the finger to climate change and rising temperatures across the Caribbean as well as a growing economy as the main reasons from the increased demand for electricity.

GEBE mentions its challenges with the industry criterion N-2 – a standard that requires power plants to have contingencies in place and be able to meet customer demand in case their two largest production units fail.

Diesel generator #19 broke down on May 5 due to a bearing failure. “Experts are currently assessing whether the bearing journal can be repaired.”

The generator was scheduled for a major overhaul in the fourth quarter of this year but GEBE has now decided to perform the overhaul together with the bearing assessment.

As a consequence, GEBE no longer meets the requirements of the N-2 standard; it does not even meet the lower N-1 standard. According to GEBE this standard involves the loss of one generator “due to record high demand.”

There are nine functioning generators remaining and according to GEBE “the team at the power plant is working diligently to address any arising issues to mitigate widespread load shedding.”

GEBE emphasizes the importance of its preventive maintenance program, adding that it is pursuing both short-term solutions to curb load shedding and long-term solutions to address increasing load demand and improve the reliability of the power plant.


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