The Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P) Ltd. continues to carry out major work to ensure that its systems can be back up in the shortest possible time following the impact of a storm during this hurricane system, which is predicted to be above average. On Sunday, five crews carried out a rerouting of one of the company’s main transmission and distribution lines with the stringing of new conductors, which company officials say will help to build resilience and allow for greater accessibility in the event of an impact.
The lines previously ran from the area of the Rubis service station in My Lords Hill onto the Belle Gully and Belle Plantation area onto the Norman Niles roundabout, which officials said had become mostly inaccessible over the years. The rerouting saw the lines now running from the area of the service station in My Lords Hill along the main road onto the Norman Niles roundabout.
This exercise formed part of the extensive work for the company, which is also based on lessons learned from hurricane Elsa last year. Reginald Parris, Distribution Supervisor said “this is all in our process to make the work area more accessible to our crews in case we have to carry out emergency work.”
“So this line went through what we call a cart road through the back over the Belle Gully, all along that route, but over the years the area has become one which we cannot access comfortably with our vehicles. So this is our process of relocating to make life easier for us and our customers,” said Parris.
This specific project started in early May, and also includes some tree trimming exercise and assessment of power lines. “We have done maintenance as well. So we have been able to change out some of the rotten poles. That will be a plus for us. In terms of restoration, this is now on a main road so we will be able to see any faults on the lines easily. It will really help us a lot in terms of restoration after any storm that comes,” he said.
Director of Operations Johann Greaves gave the assurance that “at this point, all of our systems are ready to respond to any weather system that may come this year.”
He said: “coming out of the last hurricane season we did quite an extensive review of a number of the issues that we had coming out of Hurricane Elsa specifically. We had to do maintenance on a number of poles which did have some impacts and that we needed to address for the current hurricane season to ensure they can stand up.”
He said the utility company was also proactive in securing necessary supplies, having recognised the global supply chain challenges from early last year.
“Normally we would order our hurricane stock around March of the year, but we started ordering from October last year and believe it or not, only up to this month we got some of those orders. So it showed that we did make a good move by ordering those things early,” he said.
Acknowledging that Hurricane Elsa was a test for the company last year, Greaves gave the assurance that a number of lessons were learned and they have been putting required measures in place including an upgrade of the communication systems.
He said while the company continued to engage in its usual vegetation management programme, he was also urging residents to do their part.
“We are as ready as we can be at this point. We have done a lot of work and we hope that will put us in good stead as we go forward. We also have to encourage the customers to do their own personal preparation for any event, and ensure around their home is tidy and if they have trees that need trimming they should look to get those done at this point,” he said.
The company’s lead for the hurricane restoration team explained that despite the continued upgrade, getting the electricity back up in the event of a power outage during a storm depended on several factors including the level of impact and where the impact was located.
“We come out and do an assessment of what is needed and we organise our manpower to be able to respond as quickly as possible. But I can assure you that once something happens and once we get the all clear to go we are on the job and we will do our best to restore power as fast a time as possible,”