Turbine at Snare Falls could be shut down for months, says NTPC

Snare hydro system
An aerial view of an element of the Snare hydro system.
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We should find out in the coming days how extensive – and costly – damage to the turbine at the Snare Falls hydroelectric plant really is.

On February 15, the Northwest Territories Power Corporation confirmed that a power outage in Yellowknife was a result of the turbine tripping offline.

At the time, NTPC announced that the unit could be out of action for as much as six weeks.

But we should find out shortly how accurate that timeline really is.

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Read: Get Ready To Pay More For Power Starting In April

On Monday afternoon, the power corporation announced that it had partially de-watered the plant late last week in order to conduct a more thorough investigation of the turbine.

That investigation revealed cracks in some of the turbine blades, which left NTPC with no choice but to completely de-water the plant.

“The de-watering will begin as soon as the divers, who arrived on-site [Sunday], can seal the chamber, and will take several days to complete,” reads a press release issued by the power corporation Monday.

“Once empty, the crew will be able to perform a complete inspection of the lower chamber and determine the extent of the damage and how best to proceed.”

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Engineers will have to decide if the turbine can be repaired and put back into service for a full overhaul in the summer or if a complete overhaul is required now.

If a short term solution is the answer, the power corporation says the unit could be back in service by the end of March.

A complete overhaul, however, would require a four to six month shutdown.

NTPC had previously announced that an additional $40,000 is being spent on more expensive diesel every day to keep Yellowknife ticking.

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