Parliament: Two power-generating units that tripped, causing September blackout, had been properly maintained

The blackout on Sept 18, 2018, has prompted the Energy Market Authority to work closely with Sembcorp Cogen and Senoko Energy and their original equipment manufacturers to establish the root cause of the equipment failure.
The blackout on Sept 18, 2018, has prompted the Energy Market Authority to work closely with Sembcorp Cogen and Senoko Energy and their original equipment manufacturers to establish the root cause of the equipment failure.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Power-generating units at Sembcorp Cogen and Senoko Energy tripped one after the other on Sept 18 and caused the country's worst blackout in 14 years, yet both sets of equipment had been properly maintained.

The incident has prompted the Energy Market Authority (EMA) to work closely with the two companies and their original equipment manufacturers to establish the root cause of the equipment failure.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon told Parliament on Monday (Oct 1) that the breakdown occurred despite the units being maintained in accordance with the manufacturers' recommendations.

"This is an important point because the generation technology is used in other generating units in Singapore as well as globally, and what happened here could occur elsewhere," he said, noting that the investigations will take some time, as the parts have to be sent for testing overseas.

Four MPs filed questions on the blackout that occurred at 1.18am on Sept 18, plunging about 146,500 residential and commercial customers in 19 areas into darkness. Power was fully restored within 38 minutes.

Dr Koh said: "We are reviewing our system to ensure that we continue to have sufficient capacity and contingency measures to handle any similar incidents in future."

He added that there was enough spare capacity in the system, and that Singapore had one of the most reliable and affordable electricity systems in the world.

 
 

Dr Koh said the EMA is also working with the industry to review its processes for handling such events.

The technical processes kicked in as designed, allowing a relatively quick restoration of power, he noted, while SP Group officers were activated immediately and deployed at key substations and control centres during the blackout.

SP Group also provided the public with progressive updates on its social media channels and through other media outlets.

"Nonetheless, we will review this incident carefully, to see how we can further improve our responses," Dr Koh said.