Parts of St. Thomas faced power outages Thursday due to a fuel line leak, according to the Water and Power Authority. A series of events involving WAPA’s generating units on Thursday left the Randolph Harley power plant without adequate generation capacity to meet peak power demand. As of 8:30 p.m., Feeder 6B and Ridge Road feeder were experiencing an electric service interruption. Affected areas include Main Street, the V.I. Legislature, some areas of Veterans Drive, a portion of Estate Nazareth and Vessup Bay.
Generating units have been going offline and being brought back online all day. According to WAPA, the generation capacity at the power plant first became unstable at 1:24 p.m. Thursday when a transformer protection system on generating Unit 25 operated as it should and took the unit off line. While plant workers were bringing another unit online to meet power demand and restore the service to the affected customers, Unit 23 – the big workhorse generator at the plant – tripped due to a fuel oil leak, causing more feeders to go down.
WAPA got Unit 25 back online and started two more units, 14 and 15, which brought back service to all customers. But a few hours later, around 6 p.m., Unit 15 tripped. WAPA had since gotten three units going, providing on average 50 megawatts of generation capacity, which is short of the almost 58-60 megawatts needed to meet peak demand.
Plant personnel continued to make repairs to the leaking fuel line and WAPA planned for the unit to be restored to service Thursday night, so it would have the capacity to meet peak demand Friday.