Faulty transformer at GPL plant should have been replaced since 2014 – CEO

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The transformer that exploded on Thursday last at the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Garden of Eden Power Plant on the East Bank of Demerara, should have been out of commission since 2014, according to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bharat Dindyal.

That explosion resulted in a temporary shutdown of the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System, causing damage to some customers’ equipment.

The CEO explained to the News Room during a telephone interview on Friday that back in 2013, a similar shut down occurred at the Canefield, East Canje Berbice substation; this led to the company conducting dissolved gas analyses on the transformer.

What that does is to examine the electrical transformer oil contaminants and in turn, give an estimated useful life of the transformers. The test revealed that several transformers needed to be replaced including the one involved in the Garden of Eden explosion, however, according to Dindyal, GPL still took the risk and kept the transformer in place.

More importantly, the tests were conducted every six months but still, nothing was done by the power company.

GPL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bharrat Dindyal

“That transformer should have been taken out of the system since around 2014 and the fact is that GPL was aware that this risk existed [and] they continued to send the oil for analysis to get updated positions to see how fast the transformer’s condition was deteriorating,” the CEO disclosed.

“The information was in the company and then government and management changed but now we are finding that nothing essentially was done.”

Strangely, Dindyal explained that when the faulty transformers were identified, GPL had plans to replace them in phases, but this he said was “discontinued.”

Now, the government will have to dole out some US$500,000 to procure a new transformer, Dindyal said, but not to replace the one at the Garden of Eden plant. What will happen, he explained is that GPL will utilise an existing transformer currently in use at the Good Hope substation on the East Coast of Demerara and replace the faulty transformer at Garden of Eden.

The new transformer would then be placed at the Good Hope substation.

“Garden of Eden has two other transformers that are in service now, one similar to the one that failed and a newer one that installed in the ’90s, so those two transformers will continue to provide service until we have this transformer brought in for Good Hope and the one from Good Hope relocated to Garden of Eden,” Dindyal said.

The power company was forced to shut down all power generating units at the Garden of Eden plant after the 16.7 MVA transformer caught fire, a statement the explosion said.

The loss of 27 megawatts, as a result of the fire, caused a ripple, disrupting service to all customers in the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS).

At the time of the interruption, the DBIS was generating approximately 132 megawatts of power.

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