Transformer slowly coming online in MC

Consider the Joseph J. Cefalu Sr. Municipal Steam Plant a cardiac patient recovering from a transplant, and consider the replacement transformer its new heart.

Just as a cardiac patient must slowly begin exercising again before he or she can run, so must the transformer slowly bear load capacity.

Morgan City Utilities Director Bill Cefalu said this morning that his crews will require another day to finish readying the transformer and complete final tests. Once that is done, it will require another six to 12 hours to “settle out” with no load.

On day 2, it will carry 1 MW of power. The transformer will carry an additional megawatt of power each day until its load reaches 5 megawatts. Consider this the heart patient walking on a treadmill.

Once crews are satisfied the transformer can handle the load, they will slowly increase the load the transformer bears until they can take Unit 3, one of two generators currently carrying all of the city’s power, completely off line for maintenance. If all continues to go well, the same will happen for Unit 4 so it can have maintenance.

“Even marathon runners need a break from time to time,” Cefalu said.

The replacement transformer is capable of 50 MW if it tests to its capacity. The city’s peak power needs in the summer are about 41 MW, meaning that the transformer, which is the city’s tie to Cleco power, should be able to hold the entire load if necessary. The peak loads will continue through September.

Once the three insurance policies that cover the steam plant iron out what happened and pay the city for the damages from Thursday’s fire and explosion, it will take about a year to order and have built a new transformer for the steam plant.

Cefalu said until then the transplant should hold.

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