Minister Roban On Island-Wide Power Outage

December 23, 2020 | 4 Comments

Government’s position is that BELCO “must be held accountable and answerable to the residents of Bermuda,” Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban following the recent island-wide power outage.

Speaking during last night’s press conference, Minister Walter Roban said, “Last week Friday, the impact of the island-wide outage went far beyond the loss of electricity. Government is aware and sensitive to the fact that many businesses lost revenue as a result of their forced closure which also had an adverse effect on their staff who would have also lost wages as well.

“This unforeseen occurrence has undoubtedly added to the current hardships being experienced by all residents, businesses and employees, due to the pandemic. The Government empathizes with all who were affected.

“Unfortunately for the residents of Bermuda, this is not the first time that a blackout occurred this year, albeit the previous occurrence was not an island-wide event. In August 2020, the west end of the island, from Warwick to Sandy’s lost power.

“Yesterday, there was a loss of power to over 300 customers. This sequence of disruptions, while, I am sure, is of great concern to the community, I must emphasize it is also of grave concern to the Government.

“I have informed the Chairman of the Regulatory Authority [RA] of Government’s position that BELCO, sole generation and energy distribution provider, must be held accountable and answerable to the residents of Bermuda.

“As the only provider that currently holds the only transmission, distribution and retail [TD&R] licence, BELCO has a greater duty to ensure that there is a plan to mitigate all risks within their control, whether maintenance, security or otherwise.

“Such events as the one that occurred on Friday does nothing to enhance the island’s reputation, especially as defined by Section 6 of the Electricity Act 2016 which outlines the purposes of the Act, particularly 6[a]: “to ensure the adequacy, safety, sustainability and reliability of electricity supply in Bermuda so that Bermuda continues to be well-positioned to compete in the international business and global tourism markets.”

“As Minister responsible for Energy and regulatory affairs, I have directed the RA to provide the Ministry of Home Affairs with the following information as a matter of urgency: [1] the date it anticipates receipt of a report from BELCO; [2] the date it expects to report on its assessment of the events of Friday; and [3] its recommendation as to how this matter should be addressed.

“The Government is most concerned about the island-wide outage event last week and of parish outages that are happening more frequently. Government will hold the RA accountable to make specific recommendations including: [a] *possibly* stronger reporting requirements, such risk mitigation plans, and [b] possibly stronger penalties for non-compliance.

“My letter today indicated that I expect a report as a matter of urgency. On behalf of the Government and the Ministry of Home Affairs, I would like to reassure the public that we will do all we can to provide answers relating to this unfortunate occurrence,” the Minister said.

Yesterday BELCO apologized again for the outage and said that ”early indications are that the cause was equipment failure.”

In his statement yesterday, BELCO President Dennis Pimentel said: “First and foremost let me again apologise to our customers for the inconvenience this outage caused.

“It should be noted that BELCO is one of the most reliable small island power plants in the world and this outage was a rare occurrence, the first such incident in more than 15 years, with the previous outage having been caused by a catastrophic fire. Our staff take great pride in their work and performance record and were equally disappointed and frustrated when the outage occurred.”

Noting “the incident is still under investigation,” Mr. Pimentel said “early indications are that the cause was equipment failure.”

He said: “Our operations personnel proceeded to perform a standard operating procedure, however during this process there was an equipment failure which led to a cascade of built-in safety mechanisms being triggered that ultimately shut-off power to the entire island.

“When the fault occurred, the safety mechanisms performed as designed and prevented what could have been serious damage to the generating equipment and grid and taken much longer to repair and restore power.”

“Our priority now is to ensure our report into this incident is thorough and accurate and we will provide full transparency as the report will be submitted to the Regulatory Authority and will be made public,” Ascendant President Wayne Caines said.

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Comments (4)

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  1. trufth says:

    Oh, ok, so now that the Canadians own BELCO, this Govt suddenly considers outages as “grave concerns?”

    30-6

  2. DeOnion says:

    So, is he going to speak to his fellow MP about this?

  3. Joe Bloggs says:

    “I have informed the Chairman of the Regulatory Authority [RA] of Government’s position that BELCO, sole generation and energy distribution provider, must be held accountable and answerable to the residents of Bermuda.”

    The whole purpose of the RA is to be independent, not to take orders from Government Ministers.

  4. Wing nut says:

    Another over paid genius

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