New Brunswick Power is working fast to have Point Lepreau power generating facility up and running again after it was shut down more than a week ago due to a steam turbine issue. The same problem had caused 40 days of closure before this, three months ago.
The most recent shutdown now placed the days the facility has been off commission for repairs at 609, a state the power plant wasn’t supposed to depreciate to until at least 2030.
Based on the facility’s power estimates, each hour it is offline costs at least $50000.
The facility is the largest and most important power generator. It was set up in the 1980s then revamped in 2008 to prolong its service life for another 27 working years. The revamping process encountered several issues and went three years overdue, going about $1bn over budget.
It resumed operation four years later.
According to NB Power Management, the facility is vital to its financial health. However, after they started showing signs of growing production from 2017 to 2020, issues have been cropping up.
The two recent shutdowns came after a longer than expected repair outage at the facility last September that management thought would last six weeks but finally lasted 9 weeks.
David Coon, Green Party Leader, said that he is not confident the facility will be able to last till 2040.
Like the current challenge the facility is having with its steam line, most of the issues management is experiencing are in the non-nuclear segment, most of which was not replaced at the time the facility was under reactor component maintenance.
A number of issues have attacked the facility’s non-nuclear segment after recent refurbishments forcing it offline much longer than management expected.
This led to an aggressive campaign by management starting 2016 to upgrade the facility an exercise that cost approximately $500m in improvements.
After 2017, the facility seemed to function with improved efficiency, resulting in the facility operating for about 417 straight days between 2019 and 2020.
Unfortunately, the last two issues have set the facility back financially. Coon, who appeared before the refurbishment hearing committee to urge them to close it down, says that the facility is getting old and more issues are on the way.