A temporary solution is being implemented to address the dislodged Trafalgar pipeline, which occurred on Friday morning, causing a reduction in electricity generation capacity at Trafalgar and Padu, officials of Dominica Electricity Services Limited (DOMLEC), have said.
Kurt Savarin, Generation Manager at DOMLEC, says the company has contractors actively engaged in repair work at a heightened level, with expectations that these repairs will be completed by this week.
“That is a very high level timeline,” he said. “However that will be temporary work just to make sure that we have water in the pipeline, but it will be done in such a way that when we come to put in the permanent structures, we will not need to interrupt this supply again.”
This development comes amidst the ongoing challenges faced by residents and businesses due to frequent power outages, often referred to as “load shedding,” which have plagued the island for several months. DOMLEC attributes these issues to inadequate power generation capacity, an aging diesel generation fleet, and reliance on equipment that has served the company for 37 years.
Savarin highlighted the current state of affairs, stating, “with the company presently operating at approximately 50% of hydro capacity, the loss of Trafalgar and Padu reduces our hydro capacity to just over 11%.”
According to Savarin, two generation units recently went offline, complicating matters and necessitating collaboration with suppliers to expedite the timeline for their restoration.
“We are really working with the suppliers to try to tighten the timeline on some long lead items to see how quickly we can bring that unit back online, that is at Fond Cole,” he said.
The DOMLEC official added, ” then we had another one of our older units at Fond Cole, suffered some damage and it looks like from the preliminary assessment, it will take a lot of work to bring it back online. So what we are doing now is really trying to assess the extent of the damage; some of these things, some of the parts, are obsolete.”
In its ongoing efforts to tackle these unforeseen events that have been responsible for the unscheduled outages, DOMLEC recently sought and received external support from the a generation consultant from St. Lucia, and a technical team from Venezuela and according to Bertilia McKenzie, the company’s General Manager, their report and recommendations will be available by early this week.
She described the team’s assessment as comprehensive, saying, “It was a very good visit. They looked at every aspect of our our system, because initially, we thought that they were going to look at the generation system only, but they also looked at the transmission system. They looked at dispatch and all of that as well.”
McKenzie said DOMLEC engineers are actively working to ensure the safe connection of over two megawatts of identified generation units to the grid. She added that plans to rent two megawatts of generation are also near completion, the procurement of new generators is being arranged and promised to provide detailed information to the public by midweek.
The DOMLEC general manager apologized to the company’s customers for the loadshedding which is currently taking place on island.
“We understand the frustration of the customers,” she stated. ” We want to say to our customers that we are working diligently to reverse this current trend of affairs, to go and go back to the position to the time where they could depend on DOMLEC’s reliability. We want to get back to this sooner rather than later.”