More possible until mobile generators arrive
Problems with two more of Caribbean Utilities Company’s generators caused the electric company to purposely shed load to certain parts of Grand Cayman on Sunday and Monday.
The temporary rolling blackouts, which are designed to prevent possible larger and longer blackouts, could go on for several weeks, according to a CUC spokesperson.
Vice President of Production David Watler said the electric company had to “resort to rolling blackouts” while repairs to the two damaged generating units were carried out.
“This means that we have to take feeders off the system for up to an hour at a time,” he said Monday morning.
Repairs to one of the generators were expected to be completed sometime Monday, restoring adequate capacity. The second unit was expected to be available by Tuesday.
Entire sections of South Sound, Seven Mile Beach and West Bay, and others, were without power at random times between noon and 7pm on Sunday. Power outages were also reported on Seven Mile Beach on Monday morning.
“No one customer will be without power for more than one hour,” Mr. Watler said, adding that the rolling blackouts will not affect priority customers like the hospitals, airport and financial district.
The latest generator problems follow failures of two others earlier this year. On 28 January, one generator exploded, injuring two workers, one critically. On 5 February, another generator failed. In addition, a large 16MW generator failed in September 2010
In February, CUC President and CEO Richard Hew warned there could be rolling blackouts if another large generator went offline.
The recent generator problems happened just as the springtime temperatures have started to rise. Last week, the temperature reached a year-high 87 degrees and topped 86 degrees on Sunday and Monday.
In an attempt to address the capacity issue, CUC plans to import a temporary 15-megawatt mobile generation unit on Sunday, 10 April. Until that time, however, additional unplanned generator outages might lead to capacity shortfalls and more rolling blackouts.
“We will be marginal with capacity reserve for another two to three weeks or until all mobile units are on line,” Mr. Watler said.