BEL Explains Extended Unplanned Power Outage in San Pedro

Saturday, September 2nd, 2023


Press Release Issued September 2, 2023
The entire island of San Pedro Ambergris Caye was affected by an unplanned power outage that occurred at 8:02 p.m. on Friday, September 1, 2023. Power was eventually restored seven (7) hours later at 3:02 a.m. on Saturday, September 2, 2023.
Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) understands our customers’ frustration due the unusually long power outage. We know that Customers have come to expect a higher level of service reliability from us and we apologize for the inconvenience caused.
The unplanned power outage was caused by lightning which damaged protective equipment on the overhead transmission line (on the southern tip of San Pedro) which supplies power to the island from the mainland near Maskal, resulting in a permanent fault at that location. The prolonged delay in restoring the supply was due to a combination of the time taken to access the remote location (via boat), the marshy terrain, and the nighttime and weather conditions.
Doing complex work under such conditions requires taking additional safety precautions and measures. Furthermore, our team experienced difficulties in operating the automated switches that was necessary to troubleshoot the problem. We thank our team in San Pedro and support staff on the mainland for going above and beyond to restore power to our Customers under the challenging conditions they faced.
The situation further highlights the need for us to push forward to bolster system reliability on the island as part of BEL’s Five-Year Business Plan and Least Cost System Expansion Plan. These plans include installing mobile generation on the island by January 2024 for short term backup, setting up a battery storage system by December 2024, and installing a second submarine interconnection from Maskall to the island by December 2025. These initiatives will allow us to carry out maintenance works on equipment without needing to cause extended interruptions of electricity service to our Customers in San Pedro.
It is possible that the lightning/weather event that caused the fault on the transmission line last night may have affected protective devices on the Maskall side of the supply circuit. Out of an abundance of caution, BEL will be carrying out preventative maintenance on these devices this afternoon between the hours of 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. This will require a further one-hour outage of the entire San Pedro service area during this time. We ask our Customers to bear patience with us as we make every effort to minimize interruptions of electricity service to them.
We once again thank our Customers for their patience and understanding during the unplanned outage event of last night and the outage planned for this afternoon. We continue to serve you.


 

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