Outage affected 95 percent of CUC customers

Tuesday’s power outage affected 26,500 of the Caribbean Utilities Company’s 28,000 customers on Grand Cayman, according to CUC.

About 95 percent of people on Grand Cayman lost power intermittently for four hours starting at 10:40 a.m. The outage interrupted businesses and government and closed most public schools, as well as some private schools. A CUC representative said the company restored all power by 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Company spokeswoman Pat Bynoe-Clarke said there was a fault in a power generator protection system “which shut down the generating facilities impacted as a safety precaution, which it is designed to do.”

Ms. Bynoe-Clarke said it took several hours to bring generators back online in the generator room, one of the largest at CUC, as engineers investigated the fault.

Tuesday’s outage was the second in a week for Grand Cayman’s sole electricity provider. On April 8, a utility pole caught fire and broke, cutting power to about 1,800 customers in George Town. “The fire was the result of accumulation of sea salt on the pole and subsequent rainfall,” CUC said in a press release last week.

Schools stand by decision to close

Lyneth Monteith, acting Chief Education Officer, defended the decision to close most public schools. “We always make assessments and decisions based on what is best for all our students,” she said.

The department closed all but two public schools by midday. Only Prospect Primary and Clifton Hunter High stayed open because they have backup generators. The school system reached out to the media to alert parents since school officials also had lost power.

Parents took to the radio, online forums and social media to criticize the school system for closing. One commenter on the Cayman Compass wrote, “When I was in school, we would go outside and enjoy reading a book under a tree.” Another stated: “This time of [the] outage … should have been used for outside activities.”

Ms. Monteith said several factors played into the decision. First was the timing of the outage, shortly before 11 a.m., which meant that the schools would not be able to prepare lunch for students. Second, she said, was the heat and concerns about safety for students and staff who would either have to stay in classrooms with no ventilation or move all students outside into the sun.

She acknowledged the early closure “created some anxiety for parents,” but stood by the decision.