SEB to probe statewide outage, apologises to consumers

WHY IT HAPPENED: Sjotveit (third left) speaking to reporters after the press conference to explain the reason behind the statewide blackout on Thursday night.

KUCHING: Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) has set up a team to probe the cause of the statewide blackout for more than six hours on Thursday evening and will seek support from third parties to understand the cause and gaps that may exist in the system and learn from the outage.

This was announced at a media conference at the SEB building here yesterday by chief executive officer Torstein Dale Sjotveit, who assured the public and business community that power supply and stability had been fully restored throughout the state.

Apologising for the inconvenience caused, Sjotveit explained that the outage occurred at 5.36pm on Thursday, when unexpected and serious frequency drop originating from Bakun Hydrolectric Plant (HP), led to the shutdown of all the power stations – Sejingkat Kuching,Batang Ai, Mukah Coal Plant – as well as Bintulu and Miri gas plants.

“Just before the incident, the system had a total demand and supply of 1555MW.

“In this incident, Bakun HP which at the time had a load of 884MW, dropped its load (supply) by 456 MW in 10 seconds causing a serious frequency drop to below 47.5 hz in the system (normal operating frequency in Sarawak is 50hz),” Sjotveit told reporters via a given statement after the press conference.

“To protect the integrity of all the other generators in the system, the safety tripping was automatically activated, resulting in the shutdown of all other power stations in the grid,” he added

“This is termed as ‘No recovery situation’ and the system goes down all over Sarawak. So we realised we have a complete system collapse and then recovery starts,” he said.

Within 10 minutes , SEB initiated the Blackout Restoration Plan to start-up all the generation plants that has a ‘black start capability’ and Batang Ai HEP restarted at 5.53pm,Tun Abdul Rahman Power Station (Biawak) at 5.56pm, Bintulu Power Station 6.21pm and Miri at 7.45pm (not with Black Start).

However, Bakun could not use the ‘Black start’ system as it does not have the capability to do so and it therefore was only able to be synchronised to the grid after 10pm.

Commenting on the denial by the operator of the Bakun Dam that they were responsible for the blackout, Sjotveit said the Bakun operator might not have got a clear picture of the situation as it was too early then.

A newspaper report had quoted Bakun Dam chief engineer Zulkifle Osman as saying that the dam was not the source of the blackout as there was no major technical breakdown before the blackout.

Also present at the press conference were SEB senior vice president (Transmission) Victor Wong and chief operating officer Lu Yew Hung

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