Use energy wisely, says PUC chief-• Utility company warns of reduced capacity


The overhauling of one of PUC’s large generators could increase the likelihood of load-shedding over the next three weeks

Mr Morin has appealed to the general public as well as the commercial and industrial sector to conserve energy as much as possible while the essential repairs are being carried out.

The overhauling of the large generators, which each produce 8 megawatts (MW) of power, are of concern to the PUC because they produce such a large chunk of Mahé’s energy requirements.

“Right now, we produce 64 MW of power on Mahé,” said Mr Morin. “We are going to remove one set, and when we do that we are left with 57 MW. Should anything happen on another set, God forbid, but it may happen because these things do break down from time to time, then we will end up with a net effective power capacity of around 50 MW,” said Mr Morin.

“Last week, the demand was 50 MW. Now, if you have only 50 MW in reserve and your demand is 50 MW, you may conclude that it’s OK: demand is equated with what you can supply, but it’s not quite like this. We need reserves to cushion us if anything goes wrong. So there may be times over the next three weeks when we may have to load shed.”

Mr Morin explained that the utility company will try its best to avoid load-shedding, but said it was important to advise customers in advance so that the public could make preparations to deal with power cuts and also try to minimise the demand as a preventative measure.

Mr Morin has said the PUC will try to avoid load-shedding in Victoria to minimise disruptions to businesses and industry, but if demand exceeds supply during the maintenance period due to breakdowns, they are likely to implement rolling black-outs across the other regions of Mahé until capacity has stabilised.

“If we can manage to bring electricity demand below the 50 MW mark or substantially below, then it would help us to avoid load-shedding if we should develop a problem on another set. I have previously said that our target for 2013 is to complete major overhauls of seven sets before the end of the year, so we are pushing ahead vigorously in our efforts to achieve that target.”

“We don’t expect that we will start load-shedding from the moment we start the maintenance. What we are telling the public is that there may be load-shedding and if we are able to know in advance when it’s going to happen, we will inform the public, but we cannot guarantee that we will know at all times when there is going to be load-shedding.”

Mr Morin explained that in certain scenarios, such as in the case of a generator overheating, the PUC is able to wait a few hours before shutting a generator set down, in which time it is possible to inform customers of possible disruptions to the power supply.

“But if it develops a mechanical breakdown, we do not have time to wait. We have to shut it down immediately,” he said. “Therefore, load-shedding may happen without us being able to give any warning.”

At the start of the year, the PUC had advised the public that a total of seven generator sets were due for maintenance on Mahé, one of which has already been overhauled.

“We would like to tell our customers that we are conscious of the inconvenience that this may place on them, and we regret this, but it is beyond our control to avoid this situation that we are in at the moment,” said Mr Morin.

“However, we can guarantee that we are working together with government to bring in, in the near future, additional capacity for the station to ensure that we can at least manage the demand a bit more efficiently than what we are able to do now.”