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PREPA report shows extent of disrepair in generation area


Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Executive Director Josué Colón Ortiz

By The Star Staff


Amid calls by a lawmaker for the appointment of a trustee to oversee the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, a report from the public corporation shows that at least eight generating units are inoperative, two of them for seven years, while others have breakdowns that require months of work and millions of dollars to fix.


Puerto Rico residents have endured long power outages over the past few weeks, mostly because of a reduction in power generation. Another report shows that LUMA Energy, the private operator of PREPA’s transmission and distribution system, spends more time fixing power outages when compared to PREPA.


Popular Democratic Party Luis Raúl Torres Cruz, in a letter to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, asked Congress to appoint a trustee for PREPA to oversee the reconstruction of the system, noting that LUMA Energy should not be in charge of managing some $10 billion in federal reconstruction funds for the utility.


A report prepared by PREPA Executive Director Josué Colón Ortiz, who recently returned to lead the utility, notes problems with the power units. It notes that at the San Juan power plant, the units identified as CT5, STM5, CT6 and STM6 need repairs in the millions of dollars.


Meanwhile, Unit 7 went out of service on Saturday to correct “vacuum problems and boiler inspections.” The unit is expected to return to operation on Thursday. Unit 8 has problems with boiler pipe ruptures and Unit 10 is not available due to “low pressure turbine failure.” This particular unit has not been working since 2015. For Unit 10 to operate again, an investment of some $15 million and six months of work are required.


The report notes that units 1 and 2 in the Palo Seco power plant in Toa Baja are not operating. Unit 1 has been out of service since 2014, according to the report, and requires pipe replacement. Unit 2, meanwhile, has a faulty generator. Unit 4, as can be deduced from the document, had a forced exit due to “oil liquefaction by control wiring.” It is expected to return to operation on Sunday. Unit 3 returned to operation last Saturday after the rupture of a boiler.


Units 1 and 2 at the Aguirre Plant in Salinas are functioning but require major repairs that are scheduled for January. Colón Ortiz’s report details that major work is needed for the replacement of turbine rotors, which are estimated to cost $18 million. To correct the problems of Unit 2, meanwhile, it is necessary for it to go out of operation for at least five days. The PREPA chief advises in the document that this could be done when CS 5 goes into operation.


“[It presents] feedwater control valve problems,” the document reads. “In addition, it is necessary to correct air leaks in the boiler and to clean the air preheaters.”


Units 5 and 6 at Costa Sur are out of service. Unit 5 has not been operating since Sept. 13 due to a break in the main steam line, but it is expected to be fixed by Wednesday. Meanwhile, the unit needs major repairs that cost about $15 million.


In the case of Unit 6, PREPA needs $20 million for its repair, including rotors, which were sent to a shop in the United States.

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