News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda – Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited (BELCO or the Company) today provided an update on the December 18, 2020 outage report that has been submitted to the Bermuda Regulatory Authority (RA).

In 2020, BELCO completed and commissioned the $110 million North Power Station (NPS) which has been providing Bermuda’s base load of electricity since March 31, 2020.

While the North Power Station, a highly complex project, did encounter some initial challenges BELCO staff, in cooperation with the contractor that built the plant, have been working to resolve these issues and optimise the operation of the four engines in the NPS.

As required by the terms of BELCO’s operating licenses, a report on the outage has been submitted to the RA.

The key findings of the report include:

  • The outage resulted from the loss of power to the control circuits on the engines at the North Power Station, causing the engines to shut down. This loss of power resulted from the unexpected tripping of the output breakers on an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). 
  • There was an oversight in the commissioning of the UPS system during the construction phase and BELCO was provided with incorrect operating instructions for the UPS operation and maintenance by the contractor who built the North Power Station.
  • The loss of power to the engine control circuits served by the UPS was the result of a maintenance procedure performed by BELCO. The procedure is considered standard and based on the redundancy of the power sources serving the UPS system, not a risk for a potential engine shutdown, however, due to the oversight in the commissioning of the UPS system and the incorrect maintenance instructions, the maintenance procedure resulted in the unexpected shutdown of the North Power Station engines. 
  • As a result of the shutdown of the North Power Station engines, the East Power Station was unable to pick up the sudden additional load causing the East Power Station engines become overwhelmed, resulting in a total loss of generation and an island-wide outage. 

BELCO has taken the necessary steps to prevent a similar future outage including multiple trouble shooting and testing sessions supported by the plant contractor and the UPS manufacturer, remotely. In addition, the contractor has been on-site and successfully secured a UPS configuration that supports security of supply. All testing and reviews have been overseen by an independent third-party electrical contractor to ensure the veracity and integrity of the findings in the report.

Mr Caines said: “While we were resolving warranty issues around this malfunction and resulting outage, it would have been premature to release our key findings until now. We are committed to accountability and transparency and thus have shared our key findings with the public. Since the incident occurred, the faulty equipment has been reconfigured to ensure another fault of this nature does not occur and impact the Company’s ability to supply energy to our customers. BELCO is committed to providing reliable and safe energy and implementing the Integrated Resources Plan that will ensure a cleaner, more renewable energy supply to our valued customers.”