Following yesterday’s island wide power outage, officials of Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P) say they are still in the dark over precisely what went wrong.
However, they have embarked on a major investigation in a bid to get to the bottom of the situation.
Yesterday an explosion occurred at the company’s Seawell, Christ Church substation just after 2:30 p.m., plunging the island into darkness, just ahead of the swearing in of the island’s eighth Governor General Dame Sandra Mason.
And while BL&P was able to quickly restore power in and around Parliament buildings where the swearing in occurred, it took the company just under 12 hours before it was able to achieve a full power restoration.
As a result, several businesses were forced to close early and water pressure was severely affected in some parishes, with traffic lights down as many householders cowered in absence of light.
Providing an update this afternoon via teleconference, BL&P Managing Director Roger Blackman said power was restored to all customers by 2:20 this morning, after the company was forced to implement an electricity service rotation during the course of the night.
Apologizing to customers for the inconvenience, Blackman explained that the explosion occurred on one of the circuit breakers, which formed part of the protective system at the power generating plant.
The breach affected the other generating stations – Spring Garden and Garrison in St Michael and Trents in St Lucy – resulting in the island wide blackout.
“We were able to restore half of the substation into service. That substation is one of our generating substations . . . We have four units there. We have been able to restore one of those four units. We expect the second one back today, and the third and fourth unit will be contingent on what we find as we continue our investigation,” he said.
“All of the four generating stations are electrically interconnected. The nature of this fault being so close to one of our generating stations and being on a switch gear, which is essentially one of the protective devices that is supposed to protect and isolate faults, it was such that it had an impact on the other three generating stations. So we did have this cascading event, which resulted in the overall island wide outage,” he explained.
The BL&P official said in the coming weeks the utility company, along with the switchgear equipment manufacturer, would be conducting an investigation into the failed equipment.
“As part of our investigations we are evaluating the protective systems to see if there is a way we can improve on the isolation of faults so that they don’t impact on adjacent generating plants going forward,” Blackman said.
“The failure occurred on the breaker itself and there is, adjacent to that, protective devices that measure faults and those are designed to detect and isolate faults when they occur. It is particularly challenging when a fault occurs very near, in this case, right at a generating station and so we are going to look at the protective scheme that we had in place and how it performed on this occasion to see if in fact there are improvements that can be made to isolate faults like this so it doesn’t affect other generating station,” he said.