Auxiliary equipment at fault in CUC blackout

A failure of auxiliary electricity supplies to three main generators caused a cross-island Christmas Day power outage lasting up to an hour-and-three-quarters. 

A press release from Caribbean Utilities Company said three units in the company’s North Sound Road headquarters temporarily shut down at 9:03 a.m.  

“Crews within the power plant worked safely to identify the problem, and restore power as quickly as possible,” according to the release, “with service being restored to all customers by 10:42 a.m.” 

Corporate Communications Officer Neil Murray told the Caymanian Compass that auxiliary equipment that powers the generators had tripped, causing the shutdown. 

“There was a fault in one of the switchboards,” he said, explaining that each generating unit is powered by a set of smaller engines and equipment.  

“Every generating unit in the world is programmed to shut down if they experience a mechanical problem, avoiding any potential damage” Mr. Murray said. 

“There was no damage. It was just an internal communications problem,” he said, “and it took a little time to get it back up. 

“Some were shut down as little as 15 minutes – that was the shortest,” he said. While pockets of customers were affected in each district, Mr. Murray rejected descriptions that the blackout had been island-wide. 

“It was just various patches in different districts,” he said, “and it was detected right away.” 

Such sudden interruptions are unpredictable, he said. “It’s like a car: You take it in to get serviced and them something else goes wrong.”  

The Friday release said the Christmas outage was brief, and apologized for any problems: “On average, customers were without power for approximately 30 minutes, with one hour being the maximum time any one customer was affected. 

“CUC sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience the outages may have caused,” the statement said. 

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