Climate groups says tender for Punta Catalina proves something is very wrong

The National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism of the Dominican Republic (CNLCC) says the new tender for the completing of the operation of the Punta Catalina coal-fired generation units is an indication there are serious flaws in the new operation. The consortium of Odebrecht, Techimont-Estrella built the power plant central. President Danilo Medina had announced the inauguration of the Punta Catalina 752 MW coal-fired plant for 17 March 2020. This never happened, as the government immersed itself in the coronavirus epidemic

These massive generation units, the most important infrastructure taken on by the Medina administration, abruptly cut out of the national grid on Friday, 17 April, just before President Danilo Medina was going to address the nation on the coronavirus.

According to the CNLCC, the fact that the Dominican Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) opened the bid for equipment to detect and identify the source of vibrations within electric generation systems, is proof of the deficient construction behind the generation park that is estimated to have cost upwards of US$3.5 billion.

The thermograph cameras and vibration detectors would be placed in the area of predictive maintenance within the structure of the Punta Catalina generation facility. The equipment would detect and analyze vibrations even if they are within permitted design limits, and they would also identify the possible causes of these vibrations.

The Committee says that this tender is “inexcusable” since the facility that ended up costing more than three and a half times the bid made by a Chinese firm should have come with this quality control system from the start.

The environmental group also noted that they have suggested to the presidential candidates in the upcoming elections to not sign off on receiving the Punta Catalina facility until a technical audit has been carried out by an experienced independent international company to certify that the plant is working properly and is fully compliant with the specifications contained in the original contract.

The Committee also noted that a huge rotor, the moving component of an electromagnetic system for generating electricity, fell from the hoist that was lifting it into place in June of 2017 during the attempt to stage a trial in October of that year. The rotor fell to the pavement, and the trial did not take place until a year later, in October 2018. As so happens, the rotor assigned for Unit 2 of the facility was placed in Unit 1, and the repaired rotor from Unit 1 was installed in Unit 2.

On Friday, 17 April 2020, Unit 2 was cut off and the country experienced a massive blackout, and the President’s speech was delayed for more than half an hour. Back in late March 2019, Unit 1 also cut out abruptly and suffered serious damage, remaining out of service for several weeks.

Why are these vibrations so important? The report from sources inside the plant reported that the vibrations are affecting the pipes and the walls of the boilers, the hydrogen seals and auxiliary equipment (pumps and so forth), as well as the ventilators for the system. The CDEEE recently announced the replacement of the hydrogen seals.

Read more in Spanish:
El Dia
Climate Change Committee

18 May 2020