The V.I. Water and Power Authority restored electrical service in the St. Thomas-St. John district on Monday morning, hours after the Randolph Harley Power Plant lost all generation capacity resulting in a district-wide service interruption, the utility said in a news release issued Monday.
The outage was so widespread that it even took the 911 emergency call center offline too, according to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency.
Getting the two islands back up and electrified was the work of the morning. Afterwards, WAPA interim Executive Director/CEO Noel Hodge said, the utility team turned towards figuring out what happened and why.
“With all customers restored, our focus now is on determining what caused the outage, whether an unusual occurrence on the electric grid, or tripped equipment at the power plant,” Hodge said. “As is the case in all major service interruptions, we want to fully understand what the contributing factors were and how similar occurrences can be avoided in the future.”
At this point, he said, it is not clear what circumstances or events tripped the entire power plant at approximately 4 a.m. Monday.
Hodge said that for several hours after the outage occurred, plant personnel were challenged by operational issues with most of WAPA’s generating units.
“We encountered a wide array of electric, fuel delivery, logic and other system issues with many of the generators,” he sad.
According to Hodge, after a while personnel were able to bring two gas turbines online, restoring electrical service to the plant and allowing for a commencement of service restoration to customers. The LPG-fired Wartsila generators were later dispatched to complete the service restoration effort.
“The combination of these units afforded us the production capacity needed to restore all of our customers. Restoration began at approximately 9 a.m. Monday and was completed two hours later,” Hodge said.
He apologized for the inconvenience caused by the outage and thanked the men and women of WAPA who responded to the outage situation to provide their expertise and assistance in facilitating service restoration to all customers.