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Generation units in AES and Aguirre need immediate repairs after load relief occurred this week

The Electric Power Authority (ESA) reported that two generation units at the AES and Aguirre plants will remain out of service for at least the next three days, while the damage is repaired caused by several load relief events recorded during the week, including one this morning that left more than 160,000 subscribers without electricity.

In an update to the event reported at 11:15 am today, Friday, PREPA explained, through written statements, that due to “the disturbances that occurred in the transmission system, which have caused the departure of the AES 2 units on two occasions this week, (and) EcoEléctrica’s CT 1 unit last Tuesday, and the Aguirre 2 unit today, we inform that the AES 2 and Aguirre 2 units suffered damages that need to be attended to immediately”.

“Operations and Maintenance personnel from AES Puerto Rico and PREPA work hard to complete the repairs as soon as possible. Preliminarily, we expect both units to return to service over the next three days,” added the public corporation.

This morning’s incident lasted about 40 minutes and left transmission line 50200 – which distributes 230,000 volts and is managed by the LUMA Energy consortium – out of operation, as well as generation unit 2 of AES, and unit 2 of Aguirre.

Throughout the day, PREPA and LUMA Energy have offered conflicting versions about what caused this morning’s load relief.

The information that does coincide between both entities is that the event occurred at 11:15 am this Friday and caused a load relay to start that, while it was in progress, caused a blackout in dozens of towns.

In addition, they confirmed that the event left transmission line 50200 out of operation -which distributes 230,000 volts and is managed LUMA Energy– as well as unit #2 of AES and unit #2 of Central Aguirre.

Both entities, at the moment, offer different reasons as to what exactly caused the breakdown.

An event occurred at 11:15:03 am on the 230kv Transmission line #50200which runs between the Costa Sur Transmission Center and the Manatí Transmission Center, where the 311L Phase A and B, Ground, protection devices operated,” PREPA detailed, for its part, in a line of tweets.

“This situation affected the AES #2 and Aguirre #2 units that went out of service. Technical personnel from AES and AEE are verifying the condition of the units to place them in service (again),” the agency added.

The agency reiterated that the situation occurred in the transmission and distribution system, which is managed by LUMA Energy and not by PREPA employees.

However, LUMA Energy classified the situation in the 50200 transmission line as a “fault” and not an “event” and also stated that it was the consequence of the aforementioned units going out of operation in AES and Aguirre.

We had a loss of generation in two plants: the Aguirre plant and the AES plant. This caused the system to activate a load relay and we had a period in which 160,000 customers were affected, approximately, for 37 minutes”, he told The new day the engineer Gary SotoDirector of Systems Operations at LUMA Energy.

Regarding the version offered by PREPA, Soto said the following: “The (generation) units go out of service because they see faults at the system level. In this case, we have already begun to do an analysis with the event of last Tuesday -very similar to this one- and we understand that there is an evaluation that must be done at the generation level and its protection, which is what is causing these units to go out of service. ”.

This medium questioned Soto about the dislocation between the reasons offered by LUMA and the public corporation.

“Obviously, I cannot validate why they (PREPA) make those comments, but on our part I can answer that there were events at the same time, the loss of the line due to a breakdown. I can tell you that the line is out of service and we are patrolling it with helicopters to verify why it is damaged and out of service, but technically I can not associate the output of the units with that event of the lineSoto responded.

This newspaper contacted PREPA’s press officer, José Luis Blanco, to request an interview to clarify the facts in light of LUMA Energy’s assertions, but the official assured that “the communication in the tweets is the official one. and that’s what happened.”

At the time, Soto acknowledged, to questions from this medium, that the 50200 line is a “critical line” and it is not usual for it to experience breakdowns like the one it faced this morning. Nevertheless, did not specify how many maintenance tasks, if any, that line has received since the consortium assumed, on June 1, 2021, the administration of the transmission and distribution system of the Puerto Rico electrical network.

In an update message, PREPA reported that they have activated reserve units to compensate for the generation demand due to the departure of the units in AES and Aguirre.

“Reserve units (of) PREPA entered service at stations in Aguirre, Mayagüez, Palo Seco, Cambalache, Dagüao and Yabucoa to mitigate the impact”the agency specified.

Regarding how long the evaluation and repairs to the 50200 transmission line would take, the LUMA Energy engineer estimated that, if not completed tonight, it could take until tomorrow, Saturday.

“That (the failure) does not imply that losing a 230,000 (volt) line will make it difficult for me to operate my system and continue serving my customers. We are going to re-dispatch the units in such a way that the energy flows are prudent in the different areas and continue to serve my clients”, she added.

The administration of the electrical system of Puerto Rico is distributed between the transmission and distribution infrastructure of the network, managed by LUMA Energy, and electricity generation, which is the responsibility of PREPA.

This medium corroborated that multiple people from Humacao, Caguas, Gurabo, Juncos, San Juan, Trujillo Alto, Vega Alta, Guaynabo, Carolina, Bayamón, Toa Baja, Dorado, among other towns, reported not having electricity during the time that the load relief this morning, after the blackout.

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