CUC: No capacity problem

| 21/08/2008

(CNS): Even though Cayman has suffered three major power outages over the last week, affecting most parts of the island, Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) has said that this is not a capacity problem and that each of the outages were unrelated. “These were all entirely coincidental,” Doug Murry CUC’s Corporate Secretary told CNS. “We deal with unpredictable equipment and sometimes things go wrong.”

(CNS): Even though Cayman has suffered three major power outages over the last week, affecting most parts of the island, Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) has said that this is not a capacity problem and that each of the outages were unrelated. “These were all entirely coincidental,” Doug Murry CUC’ s Corporate Secretary told CNS. “We deal with unpredictable equipment and sometimes things go wrong. We are lookingforward to demonstrating that these were just isolated incidents.”

CUC’s electrical and mechanical equipment, like all machinery, is subject to unpredictable failure, despite what the firm described as high specification and maintenance standards. CUC stressed that the failures did not indicate any underlying reliability issues and, regardless of the recent development on island, CUC was more than able to cope with the increasing demand for power.

 “We are made aware of future developments and what their demands will be well in advance of the completion,” said Murray. “From the very start of projects we start talking with the people involved so we will be able to meet all their future power requirments.”

 Murray explained that the ERA requires CUC to forward plan and to be able to generate as much as 35-55% more power than is required to satisfy the local demand, as well as to consider long term transmission requirements across the island. CUC currently has an installed generation capacity of 136.6 megawatts to meet current peak loads of approximately 93 MW.

In other words, Murray explained, it was impossible for CUC to be caught short in terms of demand, but like every other technological service things could go wrong, as has been the case over the last week.

“They say bad things happen in threes, so we should be over our problems and we are looking forward to demonstrating that to our customers,” he said. The firm’s system reliability has exceeded 99.96% on average in recent months and it has been several months since comparable outages have occurred. The firm has historically supplied a reliable service with higher standards than other Caribbean countries and comparable standards to North America.

However, Murray acknowledged that there were some problem areas that were being addressed, especially for eastern district customers.

“We do have issues with supply in North Side and East End because we have only one line, which means we can’t take it down to repair or maintain it. But we have almost completed workon the loop which will enable us to divert the current and do the necessary work to the main line, which will increase the reliability of service to customers in those districts in future,” he said.

CUC also had problems this week with the Outage Reporting Hotline, which was unable to handle the call demand and the firm is now looking at ways to improve and enhance customer communications. Murray noted too that people should always call the line when they have issues. He said any specific areas that feel they have supply problems need to call to let CUC know so that they can deal with any black spots or problem areas.

Following the most recent and significant outages, President and CEO of CUC Richard Hew said that he understood the frustrations caused when customers are without service.

“We sincerely apologize to all those persons who were affected. We continue to do all we can to avoid outages, and to quickly restore power when failures occur.  Reliability remains our key focus,” he added.

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