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STELCO warns of more power cuts in Malé

The State Electricity Company has warned of more power cuts in Malé after damage to a high-voltage cable left two-third of the capital without electricity in the early hours of Sunday.



The State Electricity Company has warned of more power cuts in Malé after damage to a high-voltage cable left most of the capital without electricity in the early hours of Sunday.

Abdul Shukoor, managing director of the state-owned utility company, told the press Sunday afternoon that the damaged cable was connected to a new 8.9-megawatt generator set up last week. The new engine shut down and caused a blackout in more than two-thirds of the capital from 2 am to 5 am.

“The next largest generator then found it hard to take up peak load and shut down,” he explained, adding that engines are programmed to shut off automatically in a sequence as a safety precaution.

“That means the two biggest [generators] turned off. That is about 17 megawatts. When 17,000 kilowatts went off at the same time, the rest couldn’t take up the slack and [power] got cut off automatically to that extent.”

The issue has not been completely resolved, he added, warning of possible cuts during peak hours in the late afternoon on Sunday. Technicians are trying to repair the damaged cable by Monday afternoon, Shukoor said.

Part of the Galolhu ward of the capital reportedly lost electricity after the STELCO press conference.

Shukoor said power went out intermittently during the past week because the new generator was being tested and fine-tuned.

A large part of Malé was in complete darkness for several hours Wednesday evening.

A 21-day reliability run as stipulated in the contract for the generator will commence on May 30, an official said, after which normal operations will begin.

The new generator was installed under a US$8.7 million project funded by the Asian Development Bank.

STELCO uses 27 generators to provide electricity for Malé. The new generator increased the company’s capacity to more than 70 megawatts.

Sunday night’s power cut came with the residents of Malé preparing for the pre-dawn suhoor meal for the second fasting day of Ramadan, prompting outrage and criticism towards STELCO on social media.

After a citywide power outage on March 5 left the capital without running water for three hours, Energy Minister Thoriq Ibrahim told the state media that the long-term solution is the US$100 million STELCO fifth power project.

A powerhouse is under construction in the capital’s suburb with the capacity of generating 50 megawatts of electricity for Malé, Hulhulé and Hulhumalé via the China-Maldives Friendship bridge.

In mid-March, the housing ministry allocated land from the industrial village in Malé’s southwestern harbour for the STELCO to build a new powerhouse.

Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz told the press that the new powerhouse will be used to provide electricity from a separate grid to the industrial village after warehouses, workshops and the waste management centre are moved to the reclaimed area.

The powerhouse will also be used as a backup plant “when electricity goes out from time to time in Malé,” he said.