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Monkey business leaves Barbados without electricity

Thursday, November 2, 2006

by Dawne Bennett
Caribbean Net News Barbados Correspondent
Email:
dawne@caribbeannetnews.com

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: The Barbados Light and Power Company (BL&P) is searching for the root cause of a power failure that left Barbadians, businesses and schools without electricity for seven hours.

The authorities say initial indications are that the entire system shut down from a fault triggered by a monkey on a high-powered line, but just why that occurred must now be investigated.

BL&P’s Manager of Marketing and Corporate Communications, Stephen Worme says it was around 6:10 am on Tuesday morning that the company’s generators shut down as a result of a fault between two of its sub-stations. On three different occasions power was restored to some areas, but problems occurred, causing the supply to shut down again shortly afterwards. It was only around 1:10 p.m. that the resumption of electricity supply remained stable.

Worme says the problem seems to have originated with a monkey on a 24 000-volt line. The primate was electrocuted, he said, and the fault created a cascading effect resulting in generators from two plants tripping, causing the islandwide shutdown.

The question though, is why the company’s protection devices did not isolate the fault. That will be the focus of the investigation.

BL&P Managing Director, Peter Williams is reported as saying that it was the worst outage in 10 years.

“The system that we operate relies on automatic protection to clear any faults and problems…We will be looking to see why it took so long to bring the generators back on,” he said.

Worme further indicated that a problem of that nature would normally have been resolved much more quickly and the company’s inability to get this done raises a number of questions about the root cause.

The outage also affected water supply across Barbados. The north of the island was hardest hit, and while not all areas were without water, the entire Barbados Water Authority network went down. Back-up power was used to pump water from some reservoirs.

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