Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited (BELCO) today addressed a number of recent outages that have affected customers across the island.
There are two distinct reasons for the recent outages. The first concerns the power generation plant and the second concerns unforeseen events on the distribution network.
BELCO spent $110 million constructing the North Power Station and work continues to fine tune the operational efficiency and reliability of the plant. As with all new and complex power plants, time is required to work through setting parameters to achieve the most optimal operational performance.
Adjustments have been made during the commissioning process and continue to be made to address issues with emissions. On December 18th 2020, there was an incident which resulted in a loss of electricity to all BELCO customers. A full Root Cause Analysis has been done on the incident and has been presented to the Regulatory Authority (RA). On March 15th, a second unexpected incident occurred which resulted in the need to manually shed load across the island causing some customers to lose power. BELCO has a dedicated team working on a comprehensive Root Cause Analysis of this most recent event and will submit a report to the RA and adjust operations where necessary.
BELCO also experiences outages as a result of unfavorable weather conditions and various other reasons. These can include, but are not limited to:
- There have been several severe winter gales so far this year with high winds causing outages across the island. Often the cause is trees on private property falling onto power lines.
- In the last few months there have been several instances where drivers have collided with BELCO poles causing outages, the most recent on Tuesday, March 16th.
- On Wednesday, March 17th helium balloons became entangled in wires causing an electrical short and outages in Pembroke.
- Kites are also a regular cause of outages when they come down across power lines.
Such events cannot be predicted but when they do happen, BELCO crews are on stand-by 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to immediately respond, repair infrastructure and restore power.
BELCO is also currently engaged in a three-year, $54 million grid and infrastructure upgrade that will ensure a more robust and resilient grid. Part of this grid modernisation project includes replacing underground cables, most of which are over 60 years old. AMI meters are also being installed across the island which will provide, more accurate reporting of outages resulting in more efficient restoration of electricity to our customers.
BELCO President Wayne Caines said: “I can certainly understand and empathise with the frustration and inconvenience customers face when they unexpectedly lose power. We will continue to do our best to manage and repair as quickly and safely as possible. Our commitment is to provide safe, secure, reliable and cost-effective electricity to our customers and our dedicated team works to achieve this goal every day. I would ask the public to be patient as we work through teething pains with the North Power Station. We are also committed to keeping all our valued customers informed when we face unexpected outages and carry out planned work to upgrade our infrastructure.”