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#431566 - 02/28/12 08:20 AM Blackout in Belize City last night!
Marty Offline
At about ten minutes to five o’clock this evening, the city lost power. According to the state owned Belize Electricity Limited, faulty equipment at the Magazine Road substation was the cause for the outage. At this time, electricity has not been restored and we have learnt that lights will not be turned on until after ten tonight. The blackout has unfortunately delayed our newscast and as a consequence, the Dickie Bradley Special and other programming are also running late. So just bear with us for the delay.

Channel 5

Belize City in darkness

Our newscast was delayed on Monday night for about two hours due to a power outage. We are able to get back on air at about eight-thirty after we had worked out the kinks on Coney Drive as well as Regent Street where our transmitters are located. But the residents in the old capital endured longer hours without electricity supply. The power outage started just before five on Monday evening and continued until minutes before eleven o’clock, also paralyzing businesses that do not have generators. The government controlled Belize Electricity Limited took six hours before engineers could determine the problem and restore supply. Early reports indicated that the outage was due to a fire at the Magazine Road substation which had damaged equipment and that supply would be restored by seven-thirty, then it was eight and then finally at eleven o’clock the lights came back on. A final release from the Belize Electricity Limited (B.E.L.) reports that the unplanned power outage was caused by faulty equipment at the Magazine Road Substation. The company says that the overheating of equipment within the substation required the interruption of the supply to the substation which feeds the entire City. The overheating was due to a faulty vacuum switch on the capacitor banks which helps to maintain the quality of voltage on the system. The vacuum switch and capacitor banks were subsequently isolated and power was restored at four minuets the eleven. B.E.L. did not wish to give any on camera interviews, so we don’t know if we can expect any further blackouts on Election Day or in the near future. On Monday night, our live Dickie Bradley Special was also delayed. Ironically, the former C.E.O. Lynn Young, was the featured guest on the blackout night. Young told Bradley what caused the extended blackout since there was no standby in place and that the work that had started for two feeders to supply the City before the nationalization was interrupted when the Public Utilities Commission accused B.E.L. of overspending.

Lynn Young

Lynn Young, BECOL

“What I understand is that there was a fault in what they call a grounding resistor which is sort of like; whenever there is a problem on the lines, it goes to ground and there is a current that goes through that and that causes the protection systems to chip in. obviously I don’t know the details, but it sounds like there might have been a fault. Well I am just guessing because when I walked out, I walked out. There is a problem and it sounds to me that there was a fault in the Belize City Substation and whatever protection was supposed to work probably didn’t work or maybe it got damaged and so the grounding resistor got damaged. That’s what I am hearing.”

Dickie Bradley

“What about plan B given that things like that will happen in an electrical plant?”

Lynn Young

“Exactly. That is one of the things that really irked me when I heard the government or the prime minister actually saying that when we were there, we spent monies on things that we didn’t need. But in an electrical system there are certain things that you have to have in case. You buy it hoping that you will never have to use it, but know that in the case you need it.”

Dickie Bradley

“But did they buy it?”

Lynn Young

“Yeah we bought a mobile—let me explain. You see, the transmission system is what you call a single line transmission system; there is no redundancy in it. And there is a substation in each city or town that steps down the voltage to the distribution voltage and then there’s the street transformers that steps it down for the house. But the weak point now is that these transformers, what we call the substations, there are more advance places that have the money would have redundant transformers—two transformers at each substation. But that is very expensive. So what we did at B.E.L. before I left, we bought a mobile substation—one that is on wheels with several different voltages—that you could take to a substation if something like this happens. So it is something that you buy and John Avery was on the air criticizing us like how you spend all this money on equipment that we don’t use, but when we needed it in Belmopan it saved us from a similar situation in Belmopan. But Belize City is big. The substation is bigger that the mobile substation. The mobile substation cannot work in Belize City. The trouble is that these transformers, these substation equipments have long lead times. When you order them, you have to order them specifically for the particular situation. So a lot of them have to be built. For example if the transformer in the Belize City substation were to get damaged, it would take six to seven months to get it replaced. So one of the things we were doing in 2008, we had plans to build two redundant feeders to feed the City-one coming down the northern road and one down the western road.”

Dickie Bradley

“Isn’t the mile 8 station some kind of something to help us when we run into them problem?”

Lynn Young

“You see the mile 8 station feeds one line that comes to the substation here in Belize City and we were bringing out two other lines. You would see some pools up by the Haulover—again Mister Avery said we were sticking up polls in the middle of nowhere, but those polls were supposed to be to provide the backup power to the city should in case things like this happen. It is not the fault of the people at B.E.L. okay. This is clearly and the PUC, because I think and I will say it publicly right, they worked with the government to bring B.E.L. down and that’s what they did. You can’t destroy the country to save the country.”

According to another report, the gas turbine is also down and is in need of maintenance work.

Channel 5

#431645 - 02/28/12 07:14 PM Re: Blackout in Belize City last night! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

A near seven hour long blackout to parts of Belize City has been resolved,
and the state-owned electricity provider has issued a statement explaining
the power outage. Belize Electricity Limited, BEL says the extended
blackout was due to a faulty vacuum switch on the capacitor Banks at the
Magazine Road Substation. The BEL statement says that the faulty switch
caused equipment at the substation to overheat, which necessitated the
unplanned interruption of electricity supply to Belize City beginning at
four fifty two yesterday evening. Technicians were able to isolate the
faulty vacuum switch and capacitor banks just before eleven o’clock last
night and power was restored to the entire Belize City. BEL says that
technicians worked throughout the night to replace the faulty vacuum switch
and there was another brief power outage just before six o’clock this
morning to reconnect the capacitor banks and to fully restore the system.



“City without pity” suffers six-hour blackout!

Just before five this evening, Monday, a sudden fire outbreak at the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) substation on Magazine Road that powers Belize City led to an outage that paralyzed the Old Capital for six hours, from 4:52 to 10:56 p.m.

The outage affected all of Belize City up to Mile 2 on both the Northern and Western Highways.

This evening after visiting the substation, Amandala obtained a statement from a representative of the recently nationalized power company, which attributed the fault at the substation to “equipment overheating,” which caused “further damage to other equipment” within the power station.

Prior to the restoration of power, the company said it was “evaluating the extent of the damage” and looking at “other alternate sources” to restore power to consumers after recognizing that repairing and replacing the damaged components “would take some time.” These alternate sources would include, but not be limited to, “mobile substations.”

The rest of the country was not affected, but Belize City effectively shut down after sundown, with only one gas station, Esso on Freetown Road, which we visited late this evening, still in operation, and most other places, without portable generators, were in the dark.

Water service was also out, we understand.

BEL announced restoration of services at 11:07 p.m., and replied at 11:28 p.m. to our query for additional information as to whether any one was injured in the fire, or whether the power the City is currently on is temporary or permanent, with the following:

“The transformer is back-up. Personnel you saw working were able to rectify the fault, so Belize City is receiving power from the Magazine Road Substation as per norm. We did not need to use alternate power sources. We are in no way reporting that anyone was harmed.”

An official press release on the unscheduled blackout will be issued tomorrow morning, Tuesday.


#431673 - 02/29/12 08:52 AM Re: Blackout in Belize City last night! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

BEL Says Overheating Caused Outage

Last night a blackout forced a five hour power outage across most of Belize City. IT happened right at Primetime- and for the first time in memory, it forced us to cancel our evening newscast.

So, first off, to all our viewers who tuned in at 6:30 and then at 10:00, wondering what was up with the news - we do apologize, it was beyond our control and we are taking steps to make sure it does not happen again.

But - it did happen last night - and that's why we aired Monday's news in our first ever morning newscast. A little confusing, but if you missed it, the entire newscast is now posted at 7newsbelize.com.

But moving on from our problem to the problem about fifty thousand Belize City residents faced between 5 and 11 p.m. yesterday when they had to get by without electricity.

BEL sent out a press release today which says that the unplanned power outage in Belize City was caused by faulty equipment at the Magazine Road Substation.

Employees at the Magazine Road Substation reported to the main office that equipment was overheating within the substation which required BEL - basically - to pull the plug and interrupt the supply to the substation which feeds the entire power grid that runs through Belize City. An earlier, unofficial report from BEL said that it was a fire related to a large transformer.

Whatever did happen, It was later determined that the problem was caused by a faulty vacuum switch on the capacitor banks - those are what help to maintain the quality of voltage on the system.

The problem was dealt with and at 10:56 p.m., power was restored to Belize City. Shortly before 6 this morning, they had to replace the faulty vacuum switch altogether, which required another brief power outage.

Channel 7


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