• The San Juan Daily Star

With installation of repaired turbine, Unit 6 at Costa Sur to return to service Dec. 30

The turbine for Unit 6 of the Costa Sur power plant in Guayanilla, which was sent off the island for $2.8 million in repairs that took close to four months, is expected to be operational at the end of the month.

By The Star Staff

After four months out of service, Unit 6 of the Costa Sur power plant in Guayanilla is expected to be operational on Dec. 30 after the damaged turbine, which cost $2.8 million to repair, arrived Wednesday, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said.

For the past couple of weeks, thousands of island residents have endured power outages due to power malfunctions.

The governor spoke at a news conference along with Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) Executive Director Josué Colón. He said the rotor installation should be completed by Dec. 18 and the full unit installation by the 30th. Each unit provides 400 megawatts of capacity to the energy grid.

“The rotor is a key piece in getting this unit back into service, as we promised when it broke down in August this year,” the governor said.

The unit was damaged in August after its blades broke. The equipment was shipped to the New York-based Mechanical Dynamics & Analysis (MD&A) for repairs.

Company officials, who traveled to Puerto Rico, are slated to monitor the installation of the turbine with some 60 PREPA employees.

Colón said the $2.8 million in repairs will be paid for from a $106 million maintenance fund approved by the Financial Oversight and Management Board. The total cost of the repairs is $5 million, a sum that includes the mobilization to the island of MD&A staff.

The governor said the installation of Unit 6 will allow PREPA to stop relying on certain peaking units, which are costly because they use diesel fuel. Costa Sur uses cheaper natural gas.

He also said PREPA can stop using units classified as of limited use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), such as units 7 and 8 of the San Juan plant and units 1 and 2 of the Palo Seco plant in Cataño, significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Pierlusi stated meanwhile that the restart of operations of Unit 6 at Costa Sur is projected in the Maintenance Plan for November, December and January.

According to the plan, the private cogenerator EcoEléctrica, in Peñuelas, “is about to complete” its scheduled maintenance and would return to the system on Sunday, contributing 530 megawatts to the power grid.

After that, Palo Seco Unit 4 would go out for six weeks for maintenance work on the air heaters and boiler burners, and for required environmental maintenance. Once it restarts operations at the end of January, that unit will contribute 216 megawatts. The maintenance work at those plants represents an investment of $3 million.

It is also expected that Unit 5 in San Juan will go out of service on Jan. 17 for its scheduled conservation work, at a cost of $40 million. Repair work will be carried out on both the combustion turbine and the steam turbogenerator, and the unit is due to return to operation in mid-May, providing 220 megawatts.

The governor also said that Unit 1 at the private AES Puerto Rico cogeneration plant in Guayama would undergo major maintenance from Jan. 15 to Feb. 21, at a cost of $9.6 million.

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