Caribbean Utilities Company has managed to restore power to the curb in all five districts on Grand Cayman.
This means that once consumers are ready for power they can be reenergized.
Of CUC’s 21,600 customers before the storm, about 18,000 have been reconnected said CUC’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Hew.
The restoration was aided by Fortis, MasTec, Inc and Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation.
CUC workers put in 28,923 overtime hours to restore the island.
Material replaced in the process included six concrete poles, 500 wooden poles, 152 miles of cable and 700 transformers.
‘Our initial target was to restore power within 90 days. We beat that target by two weeks,’ Mr. Hew said.
There is still a lot of work to be done that may not be evident to consumers. ‘We have to repair the power plant, the submarine cable, the work on the Harquail By-Pass; we have commissioned a new substation for West Bay.
‘The Frank Sound and South Sound substation were unscathed during Ivan,’ Mr. Hew said.
Consumers will likely see a rate increase Mr. Hew said. But it should not cause people to panic.
‘There will not be a final determination of the amount until the Company’s year end, which is 30 April,’ he said.
‘We will go through the process, which is outlined in the license. We will have talk to Government,’ Mr. Hew said.
Mr. Hew said lessons learned during Hurricane Gilbert were invaluable.
Gilbert was a Category 3 storm that grazed Cayman in 1988.
The surprises during Ivan were problems with supplies and shipping along with the loss of company vehicles.
‘We learnt from the Gilbert experience that concrete poles held up better and indoor substations and the submarine cable were needed for transmission and distribution.
‘There were not many surprises on the wind damage during Ivan. We came within the risk assessment for a Category 5 hurricane. In fact, the risk projection had us losing a few more poles than we did,’ he said.
‘We had prepared for the flood as all of our new engines were built 10 to 12 feet above sea level. There was some flooding in the basements, which damaged some of the auxiliary equipment. The older engine rooms, though, that were built before Gilbert were at grade level and sustained some damage from flooding,’ he said.
CUC now realises the need to store company vehicles on higher ground.
‘We lost quite a few of our light vehicles  during Hurricane Ivan. Shipping was a major issue because we assumed that a very high level of priority would be placed on our equipment; just to get electricity back is an essential service. But that did not pan out,’ Mr. Hew said.
‘We had to charter four ships and six 727 planes to bring in supplies. The ships paid for the trip back with scrap metal that we sent back,’ he said.
‘We had to think outside the box. We could not rely on the normal channels. If we ran into a stumbling block, we did not sit back and wait three or four weeks for material or equipment. I should credit Ron Parchment, Purchasing Material Manager.
‘We learnt from this experience that there are companies out there who can supply us in normal times as well. Overall, with what we were faced with, I think the team here did a great job,’ he said.
‘Plans are in the works to raise the equipment a foot or two and we have decided that all transmission poles will be concrete,’ Mr. Hew said.
ABB Sweden will commence on repairs needed for submarine cable in February.
The North Side portion of the submarine cable was damaged during Hurricane Ivan.
A portion of the cable, which was laid in 2001 and is responsible for a transmission loop to West Bay and North Side, was damaged by a vessel that went down on top of the cable.
‘Because the water was not very deep the boat hammered down on the cable for several hours. While the boat did not cut right through the cable, it did compromise the insulation of the cable,’ he explained.
‘It will be an expensive project to repair. ABB Sweden will have to float the cable and cut a section out. Then we the will have to splice in a new section,’ he said.
‘The fault is only appearing in one phase and we are hoping that once they open it they will only have to splice in that section,’ he said.