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Errors in manoeuvring procedures reason for blackouts: Expert committee - Daily News Egypt

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Errors in manoeuvring procedures reason for blackouts: Expert committee

Final report sent to Al-Sisi and Mehleb details reasons behind sudden electricity blackouts and requests that electricity grid be improved immediately

Errors in manoeuvring procedures reason for blackouts: Expert committee (AFP Photo)
Errors in manoeuvring procedures reason for blackouts: Expert committee
(AFP Photo)

A committee charged with examining the causes behind electricity blackouts in Egypt has completed its final report on the sudden blackout that took place on 4 September and submitted it to Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb, according to the prime minister.

In a cabinet press conference on Sunday, Mehleb said that the committee, headed by Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker, concluded in its report that the existence of the intent to partially separate the grid could not be proved, a claim supported by the record time it took to return the network to how it was before the incident.

According to the report, the details of which Daily News Egypt was able to receive in full, the fact that all protective equipment and devices that reduce the electricity load were functioning properly helped prevent a full blackout from occurring.

The report added that one cause includes a deviation in procedures followed for studying and implementing the manoeuvres, which resulted in the incident taking place, and was described as “the inability of the software used for managing operating systems to represent grid keys, and a lack of conformity between the simulation resulting from the software used and the actual loads on the ground”.

The committee also pointed out a lack of procedures governing the process of handling records among different operations departments, the absence of an obligation for an operations engineer to be present during manoeuvres, a lack of clear instructions for manoeuvre procedures, and the absence of a foundation for studying operations systems.

The national grid suffered partial separation on the morning of Thursday, 4 September 2014, and the minister initiated intense talks with specialists from the ministry at the National Control Centre to resolve the incident and restore the grid to its previous operational status. These efforts were successful, as the grid was functioning again in less than 24 hours. Following this, an internal committee was formed to determine the causes behind the incident and make recommendations to solve the urgent situation.

The committee’s recommendations included working quickly on strengthening the unified electrical grid for power plants, transformer stations, and transmission lines, and quickly implementing Law 63/1974, amended by Law 204/1991, which specifically deals with electrical installations.

The committee also recommended that special procedures to conduct maintenance for power lines be expedited amid efforts to update software used to distribute loads, as long as this allows real representations, emphasising the need for an operations engineer to be present as the manoeuvres take place.

Regulations governing the study and implementation of manoeuvres must be updated, the committee said, to identify responsibilities and set rules for handling records of correspondence between departments. The committee also proposed that a technical committee review all procedures and unified grid operating instructions.

The Minister of Electricity said that he is prepared to take administrative procedures against those who are responsible for the missteps referred to in the report. The Chairman of Operations has been transferred from the National Control Centre to serve in another capacity away from the control centre. Shaker stated that an administrative investigation of the matter is underway.

He also added that specialists have been chosen to help implement the committee’s recommendations, mentioning that another committee has been formed to lead the implementation process and is comprised of specialised experts from within and outside the ministry.

The Prime Minister also emphasised the importance of conducting periodic maintenance.

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