Sunday 15 December, 2019

Fuel issues blamed for power outages in Barbados

The Barbados Light and Power Company Limited has apologised to Barbadians for the power outages that disrupted life on the island over the past two days.

In a statement posted to its social media accounts, the BLPC said that it recognises that the outages affect the nation’s productivity and ability to serve customers and clients. Schools and businesses around the island were forced to close as a result as the water supply was also hampered.

"For this, we sincerely apologise and wish to assure you that we are taking this very seriously. Our teams are assiduously working to bring full restoration back to our island," the company said.

BLPC explained that it uses Heavy Fuel Oil to produce electricity but at present, they are experiencing a Heavy Fuel Oil quality issue, which has been plaguing them for an extended period. The presence of contaminants detected in the Heavy Fuel Oil is the main cause of the challenges they are experiencing, the company explained.

However, the outages which occurred this week have been labelled extraordinary events originating with a switch failure in one of the Spring Garden substations, and during that restoration process, a second event occurred on Tuesday morning with a fault on one of the generating units.

The company said in both cases system protection response is being investigated.

"Over the past few months, to compound the restoration and supply issues, we have been investigating oil quality issues which are prematurely damaging equipment used to feed oil to our generating units. At present, generating units that we would normally rely on to supply electricity demand have periodically been shutting down due to the fuel issues and this has slowed the pace of restoration.

"We are working with our fuel supplier and other stakeholders to hone in upon the specific cause and source of potential contamination from their suppliers, which is ongoing. We have been staying ahead of these issues while we completed other maintenance and repairs to the remainder of our generating fleet, however, this week highlighted the challenge we have been working through to prevent such an event from occurring," the company said. 

BLPC officials including Chairman of the Board Rick Janega from Emera were expected to meet with Prime Minister Mia Mottley, other Government officials and the Barbados Water Authority yesterday evening to give a comprehensive update and plans going forward to resolve their challenges.

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