Re­pair bills

The Compass - - Editorial - This ed­i­to­rial orig­i­nally ap­peared in The Tele­gram

The pic­tures look like some­thing out of a dystopian in­dus­trial waste­land: valves spurt­ing steam from their valve stems, bro­ken and pit­ted welds, rust­ing patches over fail­ing pipes and rusted, ash-cov­ered boiler parts.

They’re pho­to­graphs from in­side the Holy­rood Ther­mal Gen­er­at­ing Sta­tion, some of them from in­side the boiler works them­selves, all in a re­port out­lin­ing why New­found­land and Labrador Hy­dro needs to do $2.6 mil­lion in un­ex­pected re­pairs at the site this sum­mer. It’s re­pairs to stop things like high-pres­sure steam leaks that shut down one of the plant’s units three times in the last two months of 2016. Like re­plac­ing sea­wa­ter cool­ing pipes that have cor­roded to the point that pipe walls are now one-third the thick­ness they were when they were in­stalled.

Hy­dro’s try­ing to keep the plant run­ning un­til 2021 - and that’s pricey.

But that’s just one of the emer­gency re­pairs that Hy­dro asked for dur­ing the last few weeks.

In Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay, a test run of a backup power tur­bine ended up with an un­ex­pected oil leak and a mas­sive re­pair bill, over $3.7 mil­lion in work that has to be done be­fore Septem­ber. The en­tire Happy Val­ley gas tur­bine has to be re­moved and shipped to a re­pair fa­cil­ity to be dis­as­sem­bled and have in­ter­nal bear­ing seals re­placed.

The re­quests for emer­gency re­pairs were filed with the Public Util­ity Board on April 18 and 19 - aren’t you glad that you’re not fac­ing a two-day re­pair bill of $6.3 mil­lion?

The only prob­lem is, you are. And ev­ery other power user is, too.

That’s be­cause emer­gency re­pairs costs like these get to­talled up with Hy­dro’s other cap­i­tal ex­penses, and flow back to the ratepay­ers.

For any­one who’s keep­ing track (and it some­times feels like no one is keep­ing track), New­found­land and Labrador Hy­dro orig­i­nally bud­geted to do $271 mil­lion in cap­i­tal projects and up­grades in 2017. Al­ready, that’s in­creased by over $26 mil­lion in emer­gency work to $297 mil­lion, and it’s only April.

We still have eight months of the year to go. (There are some off­sets: the tur­bine re­pair in Happy Val­ley, for ex­am­ple, was set to be re­fur­bished in 2019 any­way, so Hy­dro was al­ready bud­get­ing to do some of this year’s re­pair work in later years. Like­wise, re­pairs at Bay d’Espoir will al­low the util­ity to do early main­te­nance work that was al­ready sched­uled for fu­ture years.)

It’s got­ten to the point that the PUB not-so-gen­tly asked in March - when Hy­dro asked for per­mis­sion to do other emer­gency work at Holy­rood - whether Hy­dro was ex­pect­ing any­thing else, say­ing in a for­mal re­quest for in­for­ma­tion, “Does Hy­dro an­tic­i­pate any fur­ther sup­ple­men­tal cap­i­tal ap­pli­ca­tions in 2017 for the Holy­rood Ther­mal Gen­er­at­ing Sta­tion? If yes, please pro­vide de­tails.”

There’s been clear ev­i­dence that New­found­land and Labrador Hy­dro is play­ing catch-up with re­pairs it has de­layed in the past. The only ques­tion now is: how much will the catch­ing-up cost?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.