WAPA customers hit by multiple outages
Published: September 17, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - Sporadic power outages have affected feeder lines and isolated areas on St. Thomas and St. Croix since Thursday, but V.I. Water and Power Authority officials said Monday each outage was short-lived and none signalled major mechanical problems.
None of the outages qualified as rolling blackouts, according to WAPA spokeswoman Cassandra Dunn.
Dunn said an outage on St. Thomas that affected the Estate Nadir area Thursday was because of a blown fuse on a transformer. Crews were able to repair the fuse within a short amount of time, Dunn said.
Another outage, from 2:28 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. on Sunday, affected St. Thomas feeder lines 6A, 7A, 7B, 8A and 8B, which affects power customers across the entire north and south sides of St. Thomas from Fortuna and Bordeaux in the west to Hospital Ground and Donoe Bypass in the east.
Dunn said she did not know the exact cause of another outage affecting about 100 homes in the Frenchman's Bay area for one hour and 19 minutes about 1:30 p.m. Monday, but the problem was on a primary line. Crews made the necessary repairs, and service was restored, Dunn said.
On St. Croix, Unit 20 went offline from 3:35 p.m. to 4:07 p.m. Monday, causing service disruptions to feeder lines 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, and 10, Dunn said. Those feeders affect a large swath of the western half of the island east to Gallows Bay.
This followed a smaller outage on Saturday on St. Croix after there was a problem with feeder line 8, an underground line, Dunn said. Feeder 8 serves a large swath of the southwestern quarter of the island.
"WAPA endeavors to keep the power on to all its feeders 24/7, and there will be malfunctions from time to time, so every effort is made to restore service as quickly as possible," Dunn said.
Dunn said that WAPA is 60 percent complete with the scheduled maintenance projects for which it leased a temporary gas turbine - Unit 25 - from General Electric for the St. Thomas power plant. Unit 25 provides back-up generation so that other, permanent generators can be shut down for maintenance and repairs.
The lease for Unit 25 expires in November, and WAPA has not yet decided whether it will exercise an option to renew the lease, Dunn said.
The Sunday outage on St. Thomas was triggered, however, by Unit 25 "tripping offline" because of low fuel pressure while scheduled maintenance to Unit 23 meant that unit, which would have served the downed feeder lines, was also out of commission. Unit 14 was made operational to take over the supply, Dunn said.
Customers on St. Thomas can reasonably assume once all the maintenance projects tied to Unit 25 are finished, outages of the kind experienced during the last few days will occur less frequently, according to Dunn. Outages have been occurring less frequently during the last year as WAPA has worked to correct deficiencies and to bring its power plants up to maintenance standards to ensure continuous service, Dunn said. However, she cautioned that not every outage originates in plant equipment.
WAPA crews fix downed lines and make repairs to the outlying parts of the distribution system, but they cannot control for unforeseen events, Dunn said.
"The whole idea of doing the major overhauls is to make our generators more efficient and reliable," Dunn said. "It absolutely is getting better as far as our generation is concerned. As far as the reliability of our units, we are in a much better place than we were at this time last year."
- Contact Amanda Norris at 714-9104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.