Caribbean Utilities Company does not foresee any power outages over the summer, but if more load shedding becomes necessary, it will try to warn its big customers.
In a media briefing held Thursday, 7 April, CUC President and CEO Richard Hew discussed the purposely executed rolling blackouts – known as load shedding – that occurred this week in several areas of Grand Cayman and the measures taken by the company to prevent further outages.
“I don’t anticipate any more (blackouts),” Mr. Hew said. “But I always raise a caution that if we do have unplanned events, we could have outages. It’s the challenge of running an island system.”
The load shedding episodes were carried out to prevent overload on CUC’s system, which could cause longer and wider-spread power outages on Grand Cayman.
“At this stage, we hope the outages of Sunday and Monday, that situation is behind us,” Mr. Hew said.
The power company has brought in 10 temporary, 1.5-megawatt generators to cover the rising demand of the summer months.
In May, CUC will also have an additional 16-megawatt generator and a 9-megawatt unit back from repair.
“You will see that our available capacity increases and there is a nice cushion there between anticipated peak demand and available capacity,” Mr. Hew said. “So that should lower the chances of having outages due to not being able to meet the customers’ demand.”
If there are unplanned issues regarding generators, Mr. Hew said CUC will try to give certain customers a warning of at least a half-hour before their area’s power goes out.
“Once we got into the rotating outages and we knew what circuit was coming next, within a half-hour or so we would call some of our key customers – the hotels and key large commercial customers, for instance [and] the public service industry,” he said. “Going forward, we recognise now that there is a need to give some customers that half-hour notice.
Some customers experienced failed electronics because of a surge in electricity when the power came back on this week. There are precautions customers can take to protect their electronics, Mr. Hew advised.
“Light electronics are obviously sensitive and should be protected by surge protectors or surge arresters,” Mr. Hew said. “You should have a UPS [uninterrupted power supply] for loss of data.”
In certain circumstances, CUC does accept claims on damaged products when there are power outages, Mr. Hew said.