Power outage darkens parties

A power failure that lasted up to three hours for some people on Wednesday night inconvenienced – but didn’t cancel – some office Christmas party functions.

Caribbean Utilities Company said it lost a critical transmission line between its North Sound generating plant and the South Sound substation. As a result, almost all of CUC’s customers east of an area generally near Walkers Road lost electrical power.

‘[The power outage] was a result of a break in a joint in the line,’ said CUC’s Corporate Communications Manager Caren Thompson.

The line joint had been corroded by salt contamination, Ms Thompson said.

‘We got reports of lightning in the area, but we don’t know if it was factor or not. We may never know.’

The power failure, which occurred shortly before 8pm, affected some restaurants that were hosting office Christmas parties. Two of the restaurants included Grand Old House and The Black Pearl Galley in Red Bay.

Grand Old House General Manager Martin Richter said he was hosting Christmas parties for The Security Centre and McAlpine Ltd. on Wednesday. There were many other diners there as well.

‘It was packed,’ he said. ‘We just put the candles on and made it nice and romantic.

‘People seemed to really enjoy it. It was a completely different dining experience.’

Mr. Richter said he called Massive Equipment’s managing director David Kirkaldy, who responded with two generators within a half hour so they could power up the computer system and some of the critical lighting.

‘I really have to credit him,’ said Mr. Richter of Mr. Kirkaldy. ‘He dropped everything to get to me quickly.’

Stuart Bostock, the managing director at The Security Centre said he and his group of 20 employees and spouses still enjoyed the evening.

‘We had a candlelit supper. It was very romantic,’ he said with a laugh. ‘The food was good, but it was a little warm inside [the restaurant].

‘Unfortunately, we were not able to stick around and socialise; we had to go to another establishment with power to do that.’

The Smile Dental Clinic was having its office party at The Black Pearl Galley when the lights went out.

‘It was fun,’ said Dr. Bert Thacker of the clinic. ‘It wasn’t too hot because they opened the doors. [The lights being off] actually added to the fun.’

Dr. Thacker said his group stayed, played a gift exchange game, and did not leave any earlier than it had expected to.

Dave Beeson, the general manager at The Black Pearl Galley, said his staff took the power failure in stride.

‘We lit a whole bunch of candles,’ he said. ‘[Power failures] happen quite a bit during storm season, and we have procedures for when it does.’

Ms Thompson said people in from Cayman Kai through Old Man Bay did not experience the power failure because they were serviced by the submarine cable coming from the power plant.

Customers from Old Man Bay to the Midland Acres area in Bodden Town were returned to service within two hours.

That was too long for The Lighthouse at Breakers restaurant, which closed early at about 9 pm.

‘It was a little hot,’ said General Manager Giuseppe Gatta, who added that the majority of the food ordered by diners was already prepared when the power failed.

There were no Christmas parties at the Lighthouse on Wednesday night.

‘Thankfully, no,’ Mr. Gatta said, adding that he has two Christmas parties scheduled for Thursday night and another one on Friday.

CUC said the downed line was repaired and service was restored to all customers about 11 pm.

‘The system is back to normal,’ Ms Thompson said. ‘We don’t expect any more problems as a result of the problem we had last night.

‘We apologize to the customers [the power outage] affected. These things do happen.’