Quick response to blackout

21 November 2019 | Energy

ELVIRA HATTINGH



NamPower yesterday said it had contingency measures in place to prevent a reoccurrence of Tuesday night’s power failure in most of Namibia.

By yesterday afternoon, the utility had restored power supply to all its customers and was on track to repair the damaged Kokerboom-Aries 400 kV power line near Keetmanshoop before the end of the day.

The minister of mines and energy, Tom Alweendo, assured the public that the situation was under control and no further blackouts were expected.

A malfunctioning transformer on the power line supplying electricity from South Africa plunged the central, northern and coastal parts of Namibia into darkness for more than an hour on Tuesday night.

All towns north of Windhoek and along the coast were without power from 23:09. Gobabis in the east and towns south of Windhoek experienced no power failure.

The power supply was restored in phases, starting in Windhoek at 00:48.

NamPower board chair Kauna Ndilula yesterday told a media conference that the company’s response time compared well with international standards.

At the same occasion, energy minister Alweendo said NamPower immediately sent technicians to Keetmanshoop to repair the transformer.

He said they hoped to complete the repairs before nightfall, but there were contingency plans to prevent another large-scale blackout.

Alweendo said the cause of the transformer malfunction could not be confirmed until the technical team had completed their investigation into the incident, “but sometimes equipment just breaks down.”

Asked whether the transformer could have been overloaded, NamPower managing director Simson Haulofu said that was unlikely, as the load was low at that time of the night.

He said the peak load is around 600 MW or more, whereas the load was only 480 MW when the transformer blew.

“It’s like a car breaking down; it just happens,” Haulofu said.

“We keep spare parts for key installations. That allowed us to rapidly start replacing the broken components.”

Alweendo said he was unaware of simultaneous power failures in other SADC countries but if there were any, they were unrelated to what had happened in Namibia.

The blackout also had nothing to do with Eskom’s load shedding in South Africa, the minister said.

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