OUR tells JPS to fix system to prevent future outagesWednesday, November 16, 2016
THE Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has directed the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) to take a number of measures to improve its systems and prevent future outages such as the one which occurred in April of this year.
In a release yesterday, the regulator said that having identified the main cause of the system outage, it wants the JPS to provide, by December 8, an action plan to implement all its recommendations, with specific time frames for completion.
The regulator has told the JPS to take immediate steps to correct the direct cause of the outage and provide evidence that specific actions were taken, and that the system is being operated in a reliable manner.
"The company is also required to clearly enunciate the direct cause of each problem identified and present a solution for each, along with an implementation schedule and costing where applicable," the release said.
The light and power company is also being asked to develop a set of criteria to identify facilities where operations are critical to system reliability and security; ensure that the communication issues identified in the April mishap are corrected, and that equipment defects are addressed as a matter of priority.
Furthermore, the OUR said, the JPS must: "Ensure that all major transmission outages are properly planned and coordinated to reduce the system exposure to undue security risks; and ensure that system operators are properly trained and certified in outage management by industry-recognised institutions in order to be able to prudently operate the system under contingencies and emergency conditions."
The OUR said its investigation team had found a "lack of situation awareness" by JPS’s outage management, operational and field staff who were involved in critical aspects of the management of the outage, and that there was insufficient risk assessment carried out prior to the planned outage. The outage, although planned, was poorly managed and executed, it said.
The regulator has therefore charged the company to ensure that system operators and controllers fully understand the system-operating criteria and adhere to the requirements of the generation code to prevent violations of operating requirements under all conditions.
The OUR said the JPS must also ensure that outage managers and supervisors are properly trained and certified in outage management by industry-recognised institutions, and are able to understand the relationship between system reliability and outage impact on system operations.
In addition, the JPS has been mandated to carry out a detailed review of generator over-and-under frequency trip settings, and implement appropriate time delay tripping of generating units to prevent all plants from tripping at the same frequency in order to minimize the risks of rapid cascading outages.
"Take appropriate measures to improve the complement and competence of staff in the protection and control department. Conduct a detailed review of maintenance practices for protection equipment and take the necessary actions to improve maintenance of protection systems," the OUR advised.
JPS customers also had to endure another islandwide blackout on August 27, which the company blamed on a "procedural error" at its Port Authority substation.
The OUR received a detailed report on that outage, but the JPS had asked for more time to provide additional information and was given until October 3. The OUR is expected to complete its investigation and analysis within 30 days of receipt of the required information.