BL&P seeking to get to the bottom of major power outage

Following yesterday’s island wide power outage, officials of Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P) say they are still in the dark over precisely what went wrong.

However, they have embarked on a major investigation in a bid to get to the bottom of the situation.

Yesterday an explosion occurred at the company’s Seawell, Christ Church substation just after 2:30 p.m., plunging the island into darkness, just ahead of the swearing in of the island’s eighth Governor General Dame Sandra Mason.

And while BL&P was able to quickly restore power in and around Parliament buildings where the swearing in occurred, it took the company just under 12 hours before it was able to achieve a full power restoration.

As a result, several businesses were forced to close early and water pressure was severely affected in some parishes, with traffic lights down as many householders cowered in absence of light.

Providing an update this afternoon via teleconference, BL&P Managing Director Roger Blackman said power was restored to all customers by 2:20 this morning, after the company was forced to implement an electricity service rotation during the course of the night.

Apologizing to customers for the inconvenience, Blackman explained that the explosion occurred on one of the circuit breakers, which formed part of the protective system at the power generating plant.

The breach affected the other generating stations – Spring Garden and Garrison in St Michael and Trents in St Lucy – resulting in the island wide blackout.

“We were able to restore half of the substation into service. That substation is one of our generating substations . . . We have four units there. We have been able to restore one of those four units. We expect the second one back today, and the third and fourth unit will be contingent on what we find as we continue our investigation,” he said.

“All of the four generating stations are electrically interconnected. The nature of this fault being so close to one of our generating stations and being on a switch gear, which is essentially one of the protective devices that is supposed to protect and isolate faults, it was such that it had an impact on the other three generating stations. So we did have this cascading event, which resulted in the overall island wide outage,” he explained.

The BL&P official said in the coming weeks the utility company, along with the switchgear equipment manufacturer, would be conducting an investigation into the failed equipment.

“As part of our investigations we are evaluating the protective systems to see if there is a way we can improve on the isolation of faults so that they don’t impact on adjacent generating plants going forward,” Blackman said.

“The failure occurred on the breaker itself and there is, adjacent to that, protective devices that measure faults and those are designed to detect and isolate faults when they occur. It is particularly challenging when a fault occurs very near, in this case, right at a generating station and so we are going to look at the protective scheme that we had in place and how it performed on this occasion to see if in fact there are improvements that can be made to isolate faults like this so it doesn’t affect other generating station,” he said.

9 Responses to BL&P seeking to get to the bottom of major power outage

  1. Errol Rayside
    Errol Rayside January 10, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Monkey on the wire

  2. Bajan USA January 10, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Take the Barbados power grid off-line. Hackers love to target those plant’s. By the way. Have any one in Barbados ever considered the possibility of a coastal tsunami completely distroying the only power plants. Its time to move the power plants island. St. John or st. George are much safer.

  3. milli watt January 10, 2018 at 5:22 pm………..this link says it all and while I could post the others it won’t make sense because Blackman already knows that cascading power failures are a part of a distribution system that has struggled to keep up with demand and generation.

  4. milli watt January 10, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    In the link I posted my friend Kill A Watt highlighted a disconnect between expansion of generation and distribution. I am going to explain to customers another salient point

  5. milli watt January 10, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    By far the most the most prevalent protection system in place is the impedance relay. These devices measure impedance along the line, and at the junction with lines to which it connects further up in the power grid network. The idea is that if a line, or any of its neighboring lines shorts out (perhaps by touching a tree) the extremely high current from a short circuit to ground will result in very low impedance. Again this is because, by Ohm’s law, Z = V/I. The impedance relay then trips circuit breakers to isolate the line from the grid and protect it.

  6. milli watt January 10, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    the response time in a situation like that is milliseconds but alas this company has been unable to get it right because the time on the generators are not syncronised to the distribution network, the engineers are overpaid, useless and inept. The MD knows this is one in a series of blackouts that have affected this island over the years

  7. milli watt January 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    he also knows that the BL&P is no closer to solving it now than it was for the past 35 years. we will continue to loose equipment to this crowd a nuffinerians

  8. Sue Donym January 10, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    The funny thing is that every time the BL&P has requested a rate increase, it has come with the promise that it is to assist with investment in state of the art technology. We are assured that the systems will be superior and because of their efficiency, we would soon after enjoy decreases in rates. What mechanisms do we have to hold BL&P not only to their promises, but to their responsibility to deliver the best service possible? Surely we are keeping the shareholders happy and it’s time for the company to return the favour!

    Hopefully FLOW has taken note of their many disgruntled customers. Who remembers when LIME promised to supply the fibre network customers with free uninterruptible power supply devices, only to renege on that when they joined with FLOW?

  9. Wesley Bolden January 10, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    I hope they will also consider. Why on that date,why at that hour of the day??


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