Power cuts plague santa cruz electricity video ks1

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The issue routinely triggers heated discussion at the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation with councillors, including the Santa Cruz Division’s representative Councillor Christoper Williams (JLP) and several others from both political sides who live or work in the town, lashing out verbally.

“When you have a power outage and you have the power returning there is a sudden surge for all the equipment to come up. JPS reads your meter-based on the highest peaks, so that is going to be an increase in your electricity bill,” explained Linton Harriott, owner/operator of Bun Dung Supermarket located at the heart of the Santa Cruz commercial centre.

That apart, Harriott complained about the cost of having to constantly replace protective equipment because of power outages over a period of many years. He is now contemplating even more expensive higher-end equipment to keep his business secure.

But in an e-mailed response to questions from the Observer, Winsome Callum, JPS’s director of corporate communications, suggested that the recent addition to the grid of energy from renewables originating from solar and wind farms have led to instability. She also suggested that resolution to the problems could come soon.

“I am confirming that some JPS customers in Santa Cruz and other communities in parishes in south-western Jamaica may have seen an increase in short power outages, mainly as a result of the intermittency caused by the increase in renewables on the national grid. The renewable power plants (solar, wind, hydros) are susceptible to changes in weather and can become unavailable without notice,” said Callum.

“For example, when clouds pass over the solar plant in Clarendon we immediately lose the 20 MW of power provided by this facility. This sudden drop in output results in a generation shortfall, causing power outages. The same thing happens when we lose the power provided by the wind farms located in St Elizabeth. There is usually a delay in the restoration of power because it takes a few minutes for the oil- and gas-fired generating units to be brought onto the grid to make up for the shortfall experienced when the renewables go offline. This past weekend (two weekends ago) was particularly challenging because of the cloud cover that significantly affected the output from the solar facility,” she added.

(1) A 24.5 MW storage facility at Hunt’s Bay in Kingston, to provide back-up power. This hybrid energy storage solution will help to secure grid stability and reliability. It will be immediately available to provide back-up power when renewable plants go offline, so will smooth out those interruptions caused by the intermittency of the renewables.

(2) The new 190MW LNG power plant being built in Old Harbour will also help to reduce interruptions. The new technology and the size of the LNG-fired units make them more flexible and better able to ramp up quickly in response to a sudden drop in output from other facilities.

“The electrical grid is designed to protect itself through a complex protection scheme that takes into consideration the specific configuration of each transmission and distribution line (feeder). The protection system involves feeders that will automatically go offline whenever there’s a problem on the system — to prevent extensive outages or, at worse, grid collapse… Every feeder — right across the country — has a place in the grid protection scheme. The role or position of the feeder that supplies Santa Cruz in the protection scheme is determined by its actual configuration, geographical span and load demand — not simply on the basis of the absence or presence of hospitals or other type of business,” Callum explained.