It has been exactly a year since Barbadians woke up to an unprecedented island-wide blackout, and two months since the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) was expected to issue a decision on customer compensation, damage claims and related matters.
In August of this year, the FTC said it anticipated that it would have a determination by the end of September, at which time it would be shared with the public.
However, two months later, the Commission is yet to issue a decision. A check by this newspaper on Wednesday for an update proved unsuccessful.
Managing Director of the Barbados Light & Power Company Ltd. Roger Blackman said in a recent conference call that the company was still awaiting the FTC’s final report.
“Again, we want to apologise to our customers for those outages. We will carefully consider all of the feedbacks that we get from the FTC when that report is issued, and measure it against the improvements that we have already implemented in our operations since those outages of last November,” he said.
He acknowledged that upon reflection “there were some tasks that could have been done better”.
“However, response to the outages was prompt and our dedicated teams focused on restoring power safely and I want to thank them again for that,” Blackman added.
It was on Monday, November 18, 2019, that approximately 130 000 BL&P customers woke up to a blackout that occurred just before 7:30 a.m.
It was revealed by BL&P officials that initial investigations showed that contaminated fuel, compounded by aging generators – half of which were past their retirement age – were to blame for the outage.
Power had been restored to about half the nation by 3 p.m. that day and full restoration came around 11:10 p.m.
However, the next day, the utility company reported that one of its large diesel engines shut down due to a stuck fuel pump overnight, leaving customers again without electricity for several hours.
The FTC has been assessing whether the hours of blackout breached the Utilities Regulation Act, Cap 282 or any other law governing the utility company or the standards of service.
In its update in August, the FTC had said that “matters related to service delivery, damage claims and customer compensation were also considered”.
It said subsequent to the completion of its preliminary findings report in May 2020, the BL&P was afforded the opportunity to respond to the report, which it was reviewing.