‘COVID episode’ slows investigations at GPL power plant

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Several of the Wärtsilä engineers tasked with investigating the issues at the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) power plant at the Garden of Eden on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) have tested positive for COVID, stalling those investigations.

GPL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bharat Dindyal told the News Room on Monday that a team of engineers has been working to identify the issues at the power plant. The cause of the shutdown has not yet been determined.

The power company was forced to shut down the plant last week, fearing a massive, life-threatening explosion. This could have occurred if the fuel caught afire.

While the engineers continue their investigations, they are also working to reassemble at least one of the five generators that were shut down at the plant. The goal will be to power up two generators.

In doing so, the engineers have opted to reassemble the machines with new components – even though they have not seen evidence of fault with any of those components. Dindyal noted that GPL had been aiming to power up at least one generator by Tuesday.

“The latest position on that was just before, it had this COVID episode,” he said.

Still, he has not ruled out the possibility of powering up a single generator by Tuesday. In fact, he highlighted that the engineers who tested positive should be retested by Monday night to verify whether they have recovered.

If the company manages to power up at least one generator at this plant, additional power will be supplied to the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected system (DBIS) that supplies electricity.

In total, the five generators at the Garden of Eden site provide about 46.5 megawatts (MW) of power. Comparatively, GPL reports that peak demand from consumers is about 125 MW.

With the loss of the massive East Bank power plant, the company has been tapping into its older machines to satisfy the electricity demand. But, the company continues to announce load-shedding exercises as a precaution.

For context, load shedding occurs when power companies reduce electricity consumption by switching off the power supply to some groups of customers because the system is at risk.

Simply, this is what leads to blackouts (power outages).

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