Electricity was restored to Barbados Light and Power Company (BLPC) customers by late Thursday night after an island wide power outage caused major disruption and dislocation to home, business and school life.
The business community, meanwhile, was still assessing the financial impact of the outage that either halted or significantly hindered some operations.
Full restoration came after 8 p.m., more than eight hours after the country was impacted.
Manager of Communications and Government Relations with BLPC, Jackie Marshall-Clarke told Barbados TODAY the outage which occurred around 11:30 a.m. “was the result of a fault on our 24 KV transmission line in St Thomas which caused the entire system to cascade”.
She said the process to restore power to customers started within the hour but was hindered by system stability challenges which the company was investigating.
“As a result, some customers would have experienced intermittent outages during restoration. We will continue to work in an effort to restore power to all customers as safely as possible. We apologise for this interruption in service today,” the BLPC spokesperson said.
Managing director Roger Blackman said the power company would be investigating the instability issues that were seen, though he said BLPC suspected it was related to the amount of intermittent renewable energy, which created some challenges in terms of balancing the network.
“Certainly at that time of the day, around midday, is when those systems were at maximum, and so that created some challenges for us in restoring. That would have taken a bit of time to work through. We had to stop at various stages to allow the system to stabilise while we restored feeders in a systematic way,” he said.
“We are in the process of investigating both the initial fault and why that led to cascading as well as the instability issues that we experienced when we were going through the restoration.”
President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) James Clarke and president of the Petroleum Dealers Association Aldo Ho-Kong-King both said it was too early to be able to properly assess the impact the power outage had on their members.
However, a cursory canvass of some supermarkets and gas stations revealed that several were saved by the generators while others paid the price –loss of business.
Among the supermarkets which continued business as usual were Carlton and A1 and Popular Discount.
But the fate of several gas stations was mixed.
While Sol Warrens benefited from having a generator, Sol at Lower Bank Hall Main Road reported losing “lots of sales” during the disruption.
Officials there also said workers had to vacate the building due to the heat.
Rubis Service Station at Kendal Hill also experienced the value of a generator, but Rubis My Lords Hill reported the “loss of a lot of sales”.
Schools and government offices were closed at 1:30 p.m.
Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw, who was joined at Ilaro Court by Minister of Energy and Business Development Senator Lisa Cummins and Minister of Education Kay McConney for a post-Cabinet update on the situation, said at the time that even with BLPC efforts to get customers back up, there were some challenges that contributed to the decision to end classes early and allow public servants to leave their offices for the day.
“One of the challenges is that it keeps tripping, and as a consequence, obviously, we are not sure whether we would have [power] on certainly before the end of the school day or certainly before the end of the business day,” she told the country.
“And we, therefore, appreciate that there is an inconvenience, not only to the teachers and also the students, but also to a number of the public offices who are having difficulties going about their business during today.”
She explained that even though there were fans in the schools, with the prevailing hot temperatures, students and teachers would experience difficulties in the midst of a power disruption.
In addition to that, the Acting Prime Minister pointed out that the teachers would not be able to use the technology due to the electricity cut.
“And the schools, in a sense, have come to a grinding halt as a result of not being in a position to have the electricity service available to them,” she stated.
Bradshaw said government officials had also communicated with the private sector and advised that they “give some flexibility to their workers to be able to collect their children from school and if they are in a position to continue business, to allow them to return later [in the] afternoon”.
The Minister of Transport also said the Transport Board pressed their buses into early service so students could get home.
According to the Acting Prime Minister, no major disruption of service in the public sector was expected as a result of the early closure because some workers could carry out their duties remotely.
“It is regrettable in terms of the inconvenience, but with the uncertainty at this point of when exactly all of the electrical power will be available on island, I think the best decision that we can make at this point is to ensure that our children are able to get back home safely and that our critical businesses and certainly parents are able to collect their children from school,” she said.