Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited (BELCO) today provided an update following a preliminary investigation into the island-wide outage that occurred on Friday, February 3rd.
At approximately 3:20pm an equipment fault occurred at the BELCO central plant, which caused safety mechanisms, designed to protect critical infrastructure and generating assets from damage, to engage.
BELCO’s immediate response was to ensure the safety and wellbeing of company staff and the public. There were no injuries reported. BELCO’s Crisis Management Team (CMT) was activated to manage the event and staff and additional crews were deployed to assist with restoration efforts. The Emergency Measures Organisation (EMO) was also embodied and established its base at BELCO headquarters on Serpentine Road.
Once all staff had been accounted for, the source of the fault was identified and isolated in order to commence the restoration process. Following an island-wide outage, power restoration is a complex process which requires the re-starting of engines slowly and methodically before electricity can start to be transmitted and distributed to customers on the grid.
By approximately 5:00pm, sections of the City of Hamilton and critical public services operating on back-up generation had power restored. By approximately 9:30pm full restoration of all circuits had been achieved.
A team has now been mobilised to commence investigations into the root cause of the incident. Initial reports indicate that there was a failure of the blue phase of the voltage transformer (VT) associated with one of the baseload engines. The protection systems operated as designed, tripped the engine and activated the suppression system.
The remaining engines and battery energy storage system attempted to pick up the load but the frequency of the system became unstable and resulted in the loss of the remaining generating units as further protection systems were engaged.
The engine connected with the damaged VT has now returned to service following additional testing, ensuring that there is sufficient capacity to meet the island’s energy demand.
The damaged VT has been removed and replaced and will be sent overseas for forensic analysis as BELCO staff continue to investigate the root cause of the incident.
BELCO President Wayne Caines said: “We thank the public for its patience through the events of Friday. On days like Friday, we saw the resiliency and cooperation of Bermudians all across the island as we worked to restore our electricity. This cooperation extends to government officials and even our emergency response teams. We are also proud of the BELCO team who worked well into the night to restore power to our customers. A restoration effort like the one required for a system like ours is a challenging exercise of balancing supply and demand and our teams answered the challenge.”
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