St. Kitts – Nevis Spent Millions On Electricity Upgrade

Nevis Electricity Company Limited

Electrical Outages Will Be Fewer On Both Islands

Basseterre, Saint Kitts – Nevis (SKNIS)
May 28, 2008

Electricity consumers are in for a brief round of outages soon, and for a good cause, as the Electricity Department upgrades critical components on the grid.

Mr. John Channer, the general manager of the Electricity Department, disclosed to SKNIS that an EC$3 million Protection Upgrade Project nears completion, involving replacement of 30-year-old relays and circuit breakers, which he described as, “antiquated.” The Government has funded the two-year project, and its aim is to remove and replace the old electro-magnetic relays that are slow in responding to faults, and install modern electronic relays. “The antiquated relays have been the source of the “˜Cascading Effect’ that occurs when faults trip several generators off-line,” explained Mr. Channer. “It is also a safety issue, as well, when the old breakers fail to operate and place technicians and equipment at risk for serious injury and damage.”

The upgrades to relays, circuit breakers and switchers will also enhance efficiency in every aspect, said Channer, who indicated that the more recently acquired electricity generators would function better. “The newer electricity generators with their modern electronics would react ahead of the old relays, and as a result take offline larger segments of the system than what was required.”

In order to complete the installation of relays in remote substations, it is necessary to interrupt the supply of electricity. The main areas to be affected have scheduled outages from 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. The schedule indicates interruptions from Canada Estate to Dieppe Bay on Friday, May 30th; Palmetto Point to Fig Tree on Monday, June 2nd; Ottleys to Dieppe Bay on Tuesday, June 3rd; and Conyers to Fig Tree on Wednesday, June 4th. As the system is reconfigured, other areas may experience very brief interruption, said Channer, who apologizes for the inconvenience that the process would cause.

The project has been implemented in three phases: (1) the purchase of the equipment and devices which is 90 percent completed, (2) the retrofitting of the system that is currently in progress and expected to end on June 4th, and (3) the installation of new switching gears that are expected to be installed by the end of August.

Mr. Channer told SKNIS that two additional features would accompany the upgrades. These would be the installation of “Under-frequency Protection” that would automatically balance the system if there were loss of power, and prevent island-wide shutdown of the system. The other new feature is the capability for automatic synchronization of electricity generators, reducing the timeframe required to bring a functional offline generator onto the grid. Automation of these systems would significantly improve the quality of service to all consumers, said Channer.

“We are moving toward the use of SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) that allows for the electronic monitoring and control of the system from a single location. A feasibility study is now being done with assistance from the Government of Mexico,” said Channer.

The project team comprises Mr. Bertil Browne, Supervisor of Transmission and Distribution; Mr. Nubian Greaux, Project Engineer and Field Co-ordinator, and UK Engineer Mr. Simon Musson of Charnwood Power. Support technicians are Donley Greaux, Ray Andries, Gus Shellford and Eugene Springette.

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