Update on Major Fault at the Power Station and Possible Load Shedding Scenarios

Members of the public are advised that Generators No. 3 and No. 5 continue to operate at the Power Station. 

The replacement part for Generator No. 1 has been sourced and has arrived in South Africa. It is expected that this will arrive on-Island on Saturday 4 February 2023. Work will then be undertaken to rectify the fault on Generator No. 1. This will be an intensive process that will require the separation of the alternator from the engine. All efforts will be made to return the generator to service as quickly as possible. 

Until such time that Generator No. 1 is back online, there remains a risk that should further problems be experienced at the Power Station, there could be significant and widespread impacts on the power network. If this were to be the case, it could become necessary to introduce a period of load shedding.

The term load shedding refers to a deliberate restriction in the supply of electricity to consumers. Load shedding would only be used if there is insufficient generation capacity at the Power Station, for example, if a fault were to develop on either of the two remaining operational generators. In such a scenario, the demand for electricity would exceed the capacity at the Power Station. It would then become necessary to restrict the power supply to avoid overloading the generators. 

There are two possible scenarios for how load shedding might apply on St Helena.

In the first scenario, if a fault develops on Generator No. 5 but the larger Generator No. 3 remains operational, there would be sufficient generation capacity for the Island’s needs outside of the peak period. In this instance, parts of the Jamestown area would be prioritised to receive power throughout the day, but all other districts would experience temporary periods of managed load shedding at various intervals in the day to try to reduce demand at the peak period.

Should it become necessary to introduce periods of managed load shedding under this scenario, information will be conveyed to the public via the local radio stations. The Connect enquiries line will be manned 24/7 and members of the public will be able to confirm the load shedding schedule for their district by contacting telephone number 22255. This information will also be available via the Connect website and Facebook page.

As demand for electricity varies greatly depending on the time of day and also the particular day of the week, the specifics around how load shedding will be implemented will very much depend on the circumstances. Given this, the schedule will be driven by Island demand at that point in time, and therefore it unfortunately will not be possible to provide a schedule for such a scenario at present.

In the second scenario, if a fault develops on Generator No. 3, the larger of the two operational generators, only Generator No. 5 would be providing power. Generator No. 5 is a much smaller generator and does not have sufficient capacity to supply the entire Island. In this instance, there would be widespread and sustained power outages across the Island due to load shedding, as it would only be possible to distribute power to the priority areas of Jamestown.

Whilst the risk of this happening is low, the impact should not be underestimated. Given the limited capacity of Generator No. 5, it is highly likely that properties and facilities in other parts of the Island will largely be without power. This situation would remain in effect until either Generator No .1 or Generator No. 3 could be fixed and brought back online.

This will understandably have a significant impact on those affected, but under such extraordinary circumstances Connect would prioritise parts of the Jamestown area in order to ensure that emergency services, health facilities, telecommunications and larger food shops can remain operational.

A major incident affecting both remaining generators at once is deemed to be highly unlikely, but would obviously have a significant impact on the Island as there would be no power distributed from the Power Station. Although very low risk, SHG and Connect have nonetheless been working with critical Island services to ensure that in such a scenario, essential services have standalone generators to allow them to continue operating until power can be restored.

If a fault on either generator were to be experienced, this is likely to lead to power outages across at least some of the Island. As outlined, it may then not be possible to fully restore power to certain areas. Therefore, if you should experience an unexpected power outage, please check for updates on the measures in place for your district by contacting Connect by telephone on 22255, or visiting the Connect website or Facebook page. In such an instance, announcements will also be aired via the local radio stations.

It is emphasised that at present the risk of either of the two remaining generators experiencing a major fault is low and every effort possible is being taken to keep Generators No. 3 and No. 5 operational until such time that Generator No. 1 is back online. However, given the impact of a fault arising could be significant, you are encouraged to take reasonable steps to prepare for a situation where load shedding might be required.

You may find the tips on being prepared for load shedding helpful. These are being aired via the local radio stations and have been posted on the Connect website and Facebook page. Although these are precautionary steps, this will mean you are in the best position possible should any further issues be experienced.

For further information please contact Connect Saint Helena Ltd by telephone on 22255 or via email through enquiries@connect.co.sh.

3 February 2023

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470
Email: communications@sainthelena.gov.sh