BL&P probing cause of explosion at Seawell substation

The Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P) is at present carrying out a full investigation, inclusive of a “root cause analysis”, to determine the reason behind the explosion at its Seawell substation on Monday afternoon that led to an islandwide power outage.

Roger Blackman, Managing Director of the Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P), acknowledged the above yesterday during a conference call with members of the media.
“As indicated in my update (on Monday) night, around 2:30 p.m. (on Monday) afternoon there was an explosion at our Seawell generating substation in Christ Church that caused loss of electricity across the island. At this point, the full extent of the damage is not fully known. However, our teams worked overnight to do a preliminary inspection and we were able to restore half of the substation into service,” Blackman revealed.

“That substation is one of four generating substations, meaning that we have a generating plant at it. In fact, we have four units there and we have been able to restore one of those four units and we expect the second one back today [Tuesday], and the third and fourth units would be contingent on what we find as we continue our investigation on the affected switch gear,” he further noted.

Explaining exactly how the system is set up, Blackman pointed out that Seawell serves as one generating station and the other three are located at Spring Garden, at the Headquarters based at the Garrison, and also at Trents, which serves as the solar plant. All four plants are electrically connected, he said, and the nature of the fault at Seawell, being so close to the generating station and being on a switch gear which is to serve as a protective device to isolate the fault, resulted in all the other generating stations being affected.

“So we did have this cascading event that resulted in the overall islandwide outage,” Blackman said.

He added, “Having said that, as part of our investigation, we are evaluating the protective systems to see if there is a way that we can improve on the isolation of faults like this, so that they don’t impact adjacent generating plants.

“So that certainly will be part of our investigation, going forward. We have crews on the site that are starting back work from today doing a thorough analysis,” the Managing Director
revealed, while noting that the aim is to prevent such an occurrence taking place again in the future.

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