Managing Director of the Barbados Light & Power Roger Blackman (centre), Engineering Manager Nneka Archer (left) and Director of Asset Management Rohan Seale (right), during yesterday's press conference.


BL&P working to avoid another islandwide blackout

THE Barbados Light & Power Co. Ltd (BL&P) is putting measures in place to decrease the chances of an islandwide power outage taking place.

Speaking during a press conference at the BL&P’s Garrison, St. Michael headquarters, Managing Director Roger Blackman informed members of the media that 75 per cent of the operation at the power company’s substation in Seawell, Christ Church has been restored, following an explosion at that location on January 8 which resulted in an islandwide power outage.

He said preliminary investigations revealed that the fault was isolated to a breaker for one of the generators at the substation, causing damage to adjacent equipment.

“But having identified that the fault was isolated to that one breaker, we were able to proceed with conducting repairs to the adjacent equipment, so we have gotten that substation back to about 75 per cent of full capacity. The remaining 25 per cent that is out is associated with that one breaker and the generator that uses that breaker to generate electricity on to the network,” he said.

The Managing Director explained that the 25 per cent operation at the substation which is not functioning, means that more pressure is placed on the overall system, resulting in BL&P adjusting its maintenance programmes to be able to accommodate the substation until it is functioning at its fullest capacity.

“It is not at full strength yet, but we are on our way back up and we anticipate that within the next month or two, we will have the remaining 25 per cent at that station back in service,” he said.

Having said that, Blackman noted that a fault at one specific location of the network should not bring down the entire system. He said a fault occurring on the network, away from a generation plant, is normally addressed by protection systems that isolate the fault so that it does not affect the entire network.

He indicated that in such a case, some customers close to where the fault occurs are likely to be affected, however the entire network would not feel the impact.

“And we do have faults on the system day to day, but we rarely ever see those affecting the entire island. Faults that occur very close to generating stations, as in this instance, are a lot more severe because you have a lot of current flowing through a small area.

“That is where all the production is contemplated and so they tend to have a much more severe impact on the network and therefore the protection scheme there have to be more complex to be able to cope with those.

“On this occasion we had the fault at a generating station. The protection systems for the most part worked well, but the severity of the fault created the cascading event that we saw, and that should not have happened,” he explained.

Blackman said that while conducting investigations, BL&P identified two areas of improvement that would mitigate those types of faults in the future from creating an islandwide outage.

The Managing Director who went into the technical details about the mitigating measures, said that the improvements are currently being implemented.

“Once we put those measures in place, we that an event like this, as severe as it is at a generating station would not in the future cause an islandwide outage,” he said. (AH)

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