GPL shutdown: Two generators powered up but being tested

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The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) was forced to shut down its massive Garden of Eden power plant earlier in January but the company is still exploring what triggered the issues and is now repowering a modified generator.

Since the shutdown, a team of engineers from Wärtsilä has been attempting to identify what caused the issue. Wärtsilä is the company that constructed the plant; this facility only came into commercial operation in November 2021.

“They haven’t found anything up to now,” GPL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bharat Dindyal told the News Room on Monday.

He, however, explained that one of the five generators at the plant had been dismantled and upgraded. That modified generator was powered up on Sunday alongside another generator that had not received any upgrades.

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

This has been done to compare the performance of the two generators, as part of efforts geared at identifying what triggered the plant’s shutdown, Dindyal explained.

The CEO expressed hope that comparing the performance of the two machines will allow the team of engineers to definitively determine what went wrong. The assessment of the two generators will be done on Tuesday.

With these two generators powered up, an additional 18.8 megawatts (MW) of power is being supplied to the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS) that supplies electricity to people.

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

With the shutdown of the massive East Bank power plant, however, the company has been tapping into its older machines to satisfy the electricity demand. The company has also engaged in some 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).

Dindyal, however, said that the company is hoping for a resolution of the issues at the Garden of Eden site and he was optimistic that there would be “firm guidance” on the way forward by Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the CEO also noted that these machines are under warranty and it is expected that Wärtsilä would cover the cost of all of the repairs. He also noted that GPL has a business interruption insurance policy in place, too.

It was previously noted that there could be penalties for the Wärtsilä corporation if it has been in breach of the agreement it has with the local utility company and whether its contract provides for penalties should the plant experience a shutdown as it is currently.

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