St. Kitts Still Struggling With Power Outages

St. Kitts Department of Utilities Press Conference

St. Kitts Department of Utilities Press Conference
Photo By Erasmus Williams

Basseterre, St. Kitts
October 10, 2008 (SKNIS)

The Department of Utilities has been making “an all out effort” to repair damages caused by a fire to control panels and two generators at the Needsmust Power Station on October 2.

At a press conference on Thursday, Minister of Utilities Honourable Dr. Earl Asim Martin said the briefing ““ which was the second in a seven day span ““ was designed to give the media and the public a greater understanding of the issues and a tentative timeframe as to the resolution of the problem.

“When we met last week, I [noted] that we were actually generating 15 megawatts of electricity [after the fire],” he said, which is considerably less than the 24 megawatts needed to accommodate the demand for power during peak hours. “We also indicated that, at that point we were working [to bring another] Caterpillar engine online to provide additional capacity to the system.”

“I am pleased to report that the Caterpillar is online and is, providing 2.5 additional megawatts of electricity at this time,” Minister Martin said.

This brings the total generating capacity up to 17.5. Crews are also running tests on a generator at La Vallee to add to the power grid, bringing an additional 2.5 megawatts of capacity.

Minister Martin estimated that if all proceeded well, the generator could be operational by the weekend. Even with these additions, the power needs during peak time will not be fully catered for, but the Utilities Minister promised that while the load shedding process will continue, “it will not be as intense.”

“We are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel,” he stressed.

The assiduous work of local crews in collaboration with MAN Diesel technicians, is the main reason behind such optimism.

“Our team at the power station, our team at the transmission department are doing their utmost to ensure that we have the necessary capacity. I want to commend the staff “¦ who have been working beyond the call of duty, some who have gone almost 24 hours (without rest), to ensure that we can keep the country lit,” stated the Minister. He further thanked the public for its continued patience and understanding.

General Manager of the Electricity Department, John Channer and MAN Diesel representative Terry Burn supported Minister Martin and indicated that repairs were proceeding well on the salvageable 6 megawatt engine, damaged by the fire. A tentative date of October 17 was given to the possible completion of repairs which would normalize the supply of power.

However there will be long days ahead for work crews at the power station as repair and maintenance work continue.

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