Unplanned electrical outages leave country in the dark

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 19            May 22, 2003

Features: Search Issues | Read Back Issues | Subscriptions | Merchandise Ordering Information

Power outages continued to plague the island, as well as mainland Belize this week. Once again, dust contamination due to extremely dry weather conditions was to blame for the damage done to electrical lines.

    According to Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), at 4:35 a.m. on Monday, May 19th, 2003, dust contamination caused the initial fault, which affected the national grid and subsequently the 115Kv transmission line that transmits electricity from Mexico to the remainder of the country. This fault resulted in a total system outage.

    Electrical service was restored to all areas on the national grid, except San Pedro by 7:00 a.m. BEL reverted to standby generators on the island to power up Feeders #1 and #2 by 7:30 a.m. The line was successfully repaired by 10:45 a.m., but a "flashover" caused a transformer in the Boca del Rio area of San Pedro to malfunction as soon as the power was restored. A second transformer enabled BEL to provide power to the north end of the island by early morning Tuesday, but this was short lived. By 8:00 a.m. it was necessary to cut the current again in order to repair the first transformer. According to residents in the Tres Cocos area, power was totally restored to North Ambergris Caye at approximately 5:30 p.m. Tuesday evening, a mere 25 hours later.

    Reportedly this is not the only "fault" caused by dust contamination in the past month that has affected the national grid and caused power outages to several areas of the country. Following last week's power outage, The San Pedro Sun suggested to Neville Samuels, BEL's Corporate Communications Manager, that some type of preventative maintenance, or washing down of the electrical lines be performed; this method had given the island some reprieve from outages in previous dry months. He replied that this particular activity would require the power to be cut off for a short period, causing further inconvenience to consumers. On Monday, though, according to Mr. Samuels, preventative maintenance was initiated during the hours the country was again, without power.

    A statement by BEL President and Chief Executive Officer Lynn Young on Monday revealed, "We have been having an unusual amount of unanticipated problems with our power lines during this harsh dry season... We have never had this problem on mainland Belize before, and we will continue to monitor this situation."

    A recent energy supply problem in Mexico has also forced the Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) to shed the load across Mexico, and to lessen the amount of electricity provided for sale to Belize. In addition to this, water levels at Belize's Mollejon Hydro Plant are extremely low which adds to the shortage of electricity needed for the country. BEL announced they are currently in the process of installing a 22MW gas turbine that will be completed by August of this year. According to Neville Samuels, "When completed, this project will certainly insulate the country from exposure to shortages in Mexico."

    The people of Belize certainly hope this is the truth, as they cannot afford to lose further business or electrical appliances due to the current inadequate and erratic supply of electricity. In regards to this issue, Mr. Samuels assured that, "all 'legitimate claims' of losses due to these power outages are being considered." Many other angry BEL customers expressed their suspicions that these unplanned outages were a means to convince the population to support BEL's planned Chalillo Dam. BEL denied this accusation.

Search SanPedroSun.net go!
| AmbergrisCaye.com | Island Info | Community | History | Visitor Center |
Belize News | BelizeSearch.com | Messages |

Copyright © San Pedro Sun. Design by Casado Internet Group

San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News