‘Darknl’ could re­peat across re­gion

PUB or­ders bi­weekly re­ports show­ing how N.L. Hy­dro is pre­par­ing for long, cold win­ter

Northern Pen - - Focus - BY DAVID MAHER SALTWIRE NET­WORK

As con­cerns over the re­li­a­bil­ity of the Labrador-is­land Link con­tinue to sim­mer, New­found­land and Labrador Hy­dro is work­ing on ways to pre­vent mass power out­ages this win­ter.

The Labrador Is­land Link (LIL) is ex­pected to bring in 110 megawatts of power from Labrador through­out the win­ter months. Orig­i­nally, N.L. Hy­dro op­er­ated with a 7.5 per cent forced out­age rate, but re­cently up­dated to a 30 per cent forced out­age rate. The rates don’t nec­es­sar­ily mean it’s more likely an out­age will oc­cur this win­ter, but that N.L. Hy­dro will ex­plore even more op­tions to en­sure re­li­able power.

Jen­nifer Wil­liams, vice-pres­i­dent of pro­duc­tion for N.L. Hy­dro, says the com­pany is work­ing on con­tin­gency plans, such as ask­ing busi­nesses with gen­er­at­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties like Cor­ner Brook Pulp and Pa­per to gen­er­ate power for use in the gen­eral sys­tem, and re­duc­ing the volt­age of elec­tric­ity.

“There are other con­tin­gency plans avail­able, that will only be used in ex­treme cir­cum­stances — such as run­ning the Holy­rood gas tur­bine and Holy­rood diesels at loads higher than is typ­i­cal, if con­di­tions are right,” Wil­liams said in a state­ment.

“For ex­am­ple, some­times in cold con­di­tions, gen­er­at­ing units can pro­duce more power.”

One of the main risks fac­ing the Labrador Is­land Link is soft­ware used to man­age the sys­tem.

Gen­eral Elec­tric is cur­rently de­vel­op­ing and test­ing new soft­ware for use over the win­ter, but the new soft­ware has yet to be proven re­li­able. A team from Nal­cor and N.L. Hy­dro is work­ing with Gen­eral Elec­tric in Stafford, Eng­land, to try to get the soft­ware up and run­ning as soon as pos­si­ble.

The ex­ist­ing soft­ware will be used once the Labrador Is­land Link is en­er­gized on Nov. 1, but it re­mains to be seen whether the new soft­ware will be in­stalled dur­ing the win­ter or whether it will have to wait for bet­ter weather. Part of the con­cern is that chang­ing the soft­ware mid-use could dis­rupt elec­tric­ity sup­ply for the is­land, po­ten­tially re­sult­ing in black­outs.

Once the Labrador Is­land Link comes into ser­vice, an­other risk de­vel­ops: what hap­pens to the other At­lantic provinces if there’s a prob­lem with elec­tric­ity sup­ply in New­found­land and Labrador.

Be­cause of the in­ter­con­nec­tion of the provinces through the Mar­itime Link, if there’s a ma­jor trip in this prov­ince, it could cause black­outs in Nova Sco­tia and New Bruns­wick.

If such a trip took place, N.L. Hy­dro says it would stop pulling power from the other provinces, bring the Labrador Is­land Link power load down from 110 megawatts to 50 megawatts, and ef­fec­tively leave this prov­ince iso­lated and with­out backup power from neigh­bour­ing provinces.

“While power out­ages can and do hap­pen (due to things like weather), Hy­dro is very fo­cused on this win­ter and is de­vel­op­ing con­tin­gency plans in the event power avail­abil­ity over the Labrador Is­land Link changes,” Wil­liams stated.

Mean­while, the 2018 Farmer’s Al­manac is pre­dict­ing a warm De­cem­ber, but a cold Jan­uary.

SALTWIRE NET­WORK FILE PHOTO

Work­ers in­stall a tower dur­ing con­struc­tion of the Labrador-is­land Link in 2016.

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