Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited (BELCO) today advised that with hurricane season beginning on June 1st, the Company is taking all the necessary steps to prepare for what forecasters believe will be an active season.
BELCO staff begin preparations for hurricane season months before the threat of a storm with the Crisis Management Team meeting to ensure early planning and preparations are completed, supplies are ordered, and pre-storm checklists reviewed.
Once Impact by a hurricane Is confirmed, assets, which include new poles, transformers and so on are placed in strategic locations ahead of the storm so they can be deployed quickly to needed locations and not be impeded by any obstacles on the island’s roads.
Ahead of hurricane season, BELCO retirees are engaged about their availability, and prior to storm impact are alerted to be on standby to assist in restoration efforts if needed and the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC) will be contacted should assistance from overseas be required.
If Bermuda is impacted by a storm which results in power outages, restoration crews start work as soon as it is declared safe to do so by the EMO and continue until every customer has had power restored. Power is restored according to a specific plan. Main lines, being the main vein for carrying the power, must be restored first so that branch lines can then be repaired and finally power is restored to homes. If a customer has lost power, the main and branch lines must be repaired and energized before damage to a specific household can be fixed or else there will be no power feeding into the lines that supply that home. It is important to note that BELCO never intentionally shuts off power to any customers.
There are several actions and precautions the public can take to ensure outages are kept to a minimum as well as to ensure their safety such that BELCO crews can carry out restoration work safely and efficiently. These include:
– Trees and foliage hitting power lines are the number one reason for power outages, especially during hurricanes. And these outages are entirely preventable. Now is the time for property owners to trim their trees at a minimum of ten feet away from power lines to prevent an outage. It is important to be safe while trimming your trees. Please call BELCO at 299-2800 to schedule a power shutdown for your tree trimming. We ask that you arrange this three week in advance so that we have enough time to schedule your power shutdown.
– Safety first! Always assume a downed wire is live. Never approach a downed wire, don’t try to move it or touch it.
– Reporting outages: customers with AMI meters will already be logged as having an outage. Other customers are asked not to call to report an outage until BELCO has asked you to do so.
– On the restoration of power, it is prudent to use lights only and have voltages checked by qualified personnel before plugging-in sensitive and expensive equipment.
– Remember, before the onset of high winds, ensure you unplug any appliances, electronics, or other sensitive equipment. While plug-in surge protectors protect against common, small surges, unplugging is the safest bet for lightning surges that may occur during a storm.
– Keep out of the way of BELCO crews as they work.
– Customers can always check on outages and restoration efforts in their area by visiting www.belco.bm and accessing the outage map.
– If you are a medical priority customer, please speak to your doctor now about a plan in the case of a power outage from a storm. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee electricity for the duration of the storm and you may need to make alternative arrangements.
BELCO President Wayne Caines said: “Meteorologists have predicted an active storm season this year, but the public can take comfort in knowing that BELCO are well prepared for whatever may come our way. During the aftermath of a hurricane, BELCO staff certainly appreciate the patience and understanding of the public as we work to get everyone’s power restored as quickly and safely as possible. I encourage the public to review their own hurricane safety plans as well as tips and advice on the BELCO website to keep their family and property safe should we be impacted by a storm this summer.”
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