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Solar Farm at Lookout (Nerissa Golden Photo)

Technician on Island to Resolve Power Generation Connectivity Issues

A technician is now on island to resolve the issues related to the continued electricity interruptions that have been plaguing the island for several months.

The issue is an on-again off-again one, due to aged generators which need to be urgently replaced and the lack of synchronicity between the equipment.

Minister of Energy, Dr. Samuel Joseph said the island needs a new power station. One that is fit for purpose.

Speaking on Let’s Talk with MCAP PRO Jenzil Skerritt, the minister said the plant with its current generators were inadequate and that it is an age-old problem.

Dr. Joseph shared details from budget speeches as far back as 2004 showing that the need for better electricity supply was not a new problem. He added that in the early 2000s the belief by decision-makers was that they would eventually move back to Plymouth and have the use of the power plant at Lover’s Lane. For this reason, they never moved the larger generators and instead relocated the smaller high-speed generators which were never designed for continued use.

The machines are now well over 20 years old and need to be retired, Minister Joseph stated. It has been the work of the MUL engineers that have kept them in operation, but this is unsustainable.

Joseph said the 750kw solar farm in Lookout, while operational, is not connected to the grid. He explained that the issue with the solar farm is the same issue with the new generators which were procured for the new power station. “The generators don’t talk or synchronise with each other. The synchronisation issues were present when the new power plant was signed off on and commissioned and this was never resolved,” he added. “The solar plant does not sync with MUL generators.”

Speaking to Discover Montserrat, Colin Fergus, Permanent Secretary for MCWLE and Chairman of the Board for MUL, said in the last fiscal year, his ministry received approval to engage a consultant to work on the connectivity issue. The parts and the expert are now on island and over the coming weeks, he is expected to work on resolving the two issues; connecting the newest generator purchased in 2017 to the main bus bar in the power station and ensuring that the solar farm can feed into the island’s energy grid.

The work will involve changing out the control unit on the generator and connecting it to the main power station in Shinlands. Once this is completed, the engineer will adjust the hybrid controller for the Lookout solar farm to allow it to communicate with the power station.

Fergus said MUL officials have said testing of the generator will take place later this week. Success would mean that there will be an additional generator available to the system. This will put MUL in a better position to conduct much needed maintenance on the older high-speed generators. The medium speed generator is also due for maintenance.

The PS said it is a balancing act to navigate the ministry policies which may be advanced beyond what MUL is able to undertake and manage.