Minister Liburd commissions two new generators, announces end of planned power outages

Basseterre, St. Kitts (September 24, 2019) — Minister of Public Infrastructure, Posts, Urban Development, and Transport, the Hon Ian Patches Liburd, has announced that electricity outages that have been experienced on the island of St. Kitts over the last two weeks have come to an end.

Minister Liburd made the announcement on Monday September 23 when he commissioned two Caterpillar generators at the St. Kitts Electricity Company Limited’s (SKELEC) Power Station in Needsmust. The generators, which are capable of generating a combined four megawatts of electricity, were purchased at a cost of US$1.5 million.

At the ceremony held at the Needsmust Power Station to commission the two new generators, SKELEC’s acting CEO Mr Clement Jomo Williams pointed out that during regular maintenance on the 7th of September, a significant amount of damage was found on their largest engine, MB 430L. It was put out of commission for repairs to be done and hence the load shedding that has been experienced on the island.

Minister Liburd commended SKELEC’s Maintenance Engineer, Mr Kenrod Roberts, who embarked on finding a solution to the problem that the country faced when the largest engine was put out of commission for repairs. He noted that the ceremony on Monday was testimony of the hard and good work that Mr Roberts and his team had put in, and for what they got out in terms of the results.

“We were short of some four/five megawatts, because the peak demand is around 28 megawatts and we were down at 23 or thereabouts,” said Minister Liburd. “So the fact that we have come back on line, the planned outages are no more. Words can’t express how much we ought to extend gratitude to Kenrod and his team for really bringing us back on line in terms of our generation plant here.”

The ceremony was attended by the acting chairman of SKELEC’s Board of Directors Mr Mahesh Nariani, Secretary of the Board Ms Jihan Williams, Chair of the Technical Committee on the Board Mr Terence Byron, Board Member Ms Verna Lewis, SKELEC’s Finance Manager Mrs Pearl Williams, and other senior staff members. Rev Hilton Joseph of the Zion Moravian church led in prayers to bless the two new generating units, and the staff at the Needsmust Power Station and the country at large.

“The fact that we came here, the board and the management has sat down, examined the problem and found a solution to the problem and it cost us some US$1.5 million and I am happy that the board took the decision not to rent but at least buy these generators irrespective of the fact that even some of our customers don’t pay their bills,” observed Minister Liburd.

He added that SKELEC has introduced a deferred payment arrangement “for customers who are having difficulties and we want customers to understand that if you do not pay your bills then SKELEC can’t operate as efficiently and effectively as it ought to operate. We are introducing the prepaid payment plan as well shortly and I believe that it is important for customers to understand that it costs to generate electricity and we expect you to do your part if you consume electricity.”

SKELEC’s Maintenance Engineer Mr Kenrod Roberts advised that the largest unit MB 430L which was found to have a fault, was installed in 1999. With the average lifespan of such units being 25-30 years, they decided to do major work on it which would take six weeks and in the interim they decided to order the two new Caterpillar units to make up on the shortfall.

“Over the last two weeks some intense work was carried out in making preparations to bring in two CAT 3516B units, which we were able to get installed within the anticipated two weeks and so today we are here to officially commission the units and to have them in service as we continue the work on our largest unit,” noted Mr Roberts.

According to Mr Roberts, once the main unit (MB 430L) is back on line, the two new CAT  3516B units can be used in the event of a disaster like a hurricane of storm where they could be used in communities to provide power while the company gets some of the lines in place if they had been damaged.

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