The problem that caused power outages over several days three weeks ago started with ‘a suspected fault in the northern feeder causing issues with the generators’ according to Director of Utilities Clinton Chapman.
There was also the added problem of missing communication elements to the Micro-Grid controller which is remotely controlled from New Zealand contributing to an interface communication problem between the solar power system and the diesel generator system.
The issues are serious enough that Niue Power has now reverted back to full diesel generator power generation, using three generators and a new rental from New Zealand.
“Presently there are three existing generators operating. Two are on 27/7 and one is on standby but brought online in peak load times so we are not out of the woods yet” said Chapman as one of these generators is thirty years old.
Another generator was flown up from New Zealand last week to provide support to the three existing generators.
“The new rental generator flown in from New Zealand has been connected into the power station but has not been fully integrated into the main grid yet. The Terra Cat engineer left on Monday last week and will be fabricating an electronic control board, to suit Niue’s unique manual control system. The controls will be flown up for installation over the next two weeks”.
Chapman says ‘The important message is, we still do not have full capacity, not out of the woods yet’ asking the public to maintain conservation of power.
Meanwhile, the new power station built next door to the existing one at Tuila will not be commissioned for another twelve months possibly as there is still much work required to fit the new power station.
“Going forward, we need to maintain the old power station and keep that functioning for as long as possible. The completion, testing, and integration of the new power station will take 12 months. There are two new 1MegaWatt generators here on the island, awaiting other important components for its connection. In the meantime, NPC with their overseas partner Powersmart will be working on restoring the system over the next week.
“Having the solar system back on line will help secure our supply and to allow time for regular maintenance of the generators” said Mr. Clinton Chapman.