According to N.B. Power communications officer Dominique Couture, supply and personnel shortages and more significant problems with station equipment than anticipated have all undermined the plant’s quick return to service.
“Some of the challenges experienced included supply chain issues impacting parts delivery and skilled labour availability,” wrote Couture in an email to CBC News.
“As well as with any planned maintenance that involves testing and inspecting equipment, it is difficult to precisely project outage duration until you have taken the plant offline and opened the systems and equipment up for further inspection.”
According to filings with the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board, Lepreau has experienced 8,000 more hours of downtime than projected since 2012, not including the current outage.
That has been a major factor in N.B. Power missing corporate profit targets for the last six years in a row and failing to execute on plans to reduce its debt load.
“We have talked about that on a number of occasions the fact that unfortunately it did not perform as we would have liked coming out of refurbishment.”
N.B. Power plans spring maintenance shutdowns at Lepreau every other year to try to keep the station in top condition, but aims to keep those events short and focused.
“Getting Point Lepreau back online is top priority because of the value that it adds to the overall state of the financials.”
This year’s spring outage was originally planned for 60 days. It began on April 9, but is already at day 98 with some significant work still not complete.
Plans now are to get Lepreau back in service next week and then shut it down again next April for another 22 days to deal with the unfinished work.
“A major equipment replacement scheduled for the 2022 outage was delayed due to supply chain issues, which required us to plan a short outage for 2023 to ensure predictable, reliable station operations going forward,” wrote Couture.
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