Belco: 1,500 still without power

Around 1,500 homes remained without electricity this morning, and many of those are unlikely to receive power before the impact of Hurricane Gonzalo.

Belco will be aware of widespread outages after the hurricane has passed.

According to a spokeswoman for the company, 735 customers in the central parishes remain without power, along with 470 in the west, 270 in the east and 35 in the City of Hamilton.

“The majority of these customers will not have power restored before Hurricane Gonzalo reaches Bermuda,” the spokeswoman said.

“Today, Belco crews will concentrate on ‘make-safe’ work, that securing poles and other equipment that are down or loose or leaning so that they do not pose a hazard during the hurricane. Where possible, crews will also take the opportunity to restore power, if an easy fix can be made and if resources are available.

“At noon, Belco offices will close and all staff will be released to make preparations for their homes and families, including crews that have not already done so. Some crews will choose to continue working. Belco offices will not be open on Friday. Customers will have an early payment discount grace period.

“This evening and overnight, a few crews will be on standby for emergencies. Given the nature of the approaching hurricane and the current extent of Belco’s system damage, we do not plan to do restoration work in the hours leading up to and during the storm.

“Once Hurricane Gonzalo passes, an Island-wide assessment will be done and a new restoration plan will be put in place.”

The spokeswoman said Belco remains in close communications with CARILEC officials, who are prepared to send crews from Barbados, the British Virgin Islands and Dominica to assist with storm restoration.

“Those crews are expected to reach the Island early next week, depending on Hurricane Gonzalo’s impact, as well as the status of LF Wade International Airport and the Causeway,” she added. “If storm damage is such that more crews than currently anticipated are required, we will make that request to CARILEC.”

The statement also noted that during past storms rumours have been circulated about Belco “shutting down” the central plant, which she said was untrue.

“Typically, some customers will continue to have power even in the worst storm and their electricity supply from BELCO will continue (for example, many buildings in the City of Hamilton are not likely to lose power).

“However, with a powerful storm like this, transmission and distribution system damage will leave many customers Island-wide without power. As those customers go off-line, BELCO will reduce power generation.

“Power generation will increase accordingly, as customers are brought back online during post-storm restoration.”

As of 5pm, BELCO crews were instructed to step down from working, as they complete jobs in progress. Standby crews will be on call for emergencies from now until Hurricane Gonzalo is past the Island, with personnel located in the East End to handle emergencies there, should the Causeway sustain damage. After the hurricane, damage assessment will be done, beginning the next restoration process.

Belco again urged everyone to:

•Stay off the roads after the storm, so that roads can be cleared for restoration to commence.

•Stay away from downed power lines and debris that may be covering them, also stay away from transformers – all should be considered live and dangerous.

•Do NOT call 955 to report outages, until instruction is given to do so. BELCO WILL be aware of widespread outages.

•DO call 955 with emergencies, such as live, downed lines. Crews will address these when it is safe to do so.

•For fires and life-threatening emergencies, call 911, even for pole or transformer fires. The Fire Service will alert Belco.

•Unplug sensitive electronic equipment before power goes out, and certainly if you lose power or have partial power. Doing so can save equipment from storm-related damage.

•Do not use propane grills, lamps, etc. indoors. Turn off propane valves before the storm strikes. Keep all propane equipment well ventilated.

•Put safety first, ahead of every other consideration.

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Published Oct 16, 2014 at 9:39 am (Updated Oct 16, 2014 at 6:46 pm)

Belco: 1,500 still without power

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