Barbados Gone Dark

The following is a statement issued by the MD of Barbados Light & Power a few minutes ago. Prime Minister Mia Mottley has demanded a meeting with the Chairman of EMERA this evening.

Several stories have been floating about social media in the last 24 hours, BU will stay with the official positions issued by the BL&P for the moment.

Roger Blackman, Managing Director of BLPC

The Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BLPC) wishes to update Barbadians on the electricity outages that have occurred this week. We recognise that this affects our nation’s productivity and ability to serve your own customers and clients. For this, we sincerely apologise and wish to assure you that we are taking this very seriously. Our teams are assiduously working to bring full restoration back to our island.
BLPC uses Heavy Fuel Oil to produce electricity to meet the needs of our customers. At present, we are experiencing a Heavy Fuel Oil quality issue, which has been plaguing us for an extended period. The presence of contaminants detected in the Heavy Fuel Oil is the main cause of the challenges we are experiencing.
The outage events which occurred this week are extraordinary events originating with a switch failure in one of our Spring Garden substations, and during that restoration process, a second event occurred on Tuesday morning with a fault on one of our generating units. In both cases system protection response is being investigated.
Over the past few months, to compound the restoration and supply issues, we have been investigating oil quality issues which are prematurely damaging equipment used to feed oil to our generating units. At present, generating units that we would normally rely on to supply electricity demand have periodically been shutting down due to the fuel issues and this has slowed the pace of restoration.
We are working with our fuel supplier and other stakeholders to hone in upon the specific cause and source of potential contamination from their suppliers, which is ongoing. We have been staying ahead of these issues while we completed other maintenance and repairs to the remainder of our generating fleet, however, this week highlighted the challenge we have been working through to prevent such an event from occurring.
We wish to thank you for your patience, support and encouraging words as we work through this period. We are meeting with the Prime Minister, other Government officials and the Barbados Water Authority this evening to give a comprehensive update and to provide an update on our status and plans going forward to resolve our challenges. We will of course keep you updated of any significant changes as things evolve.
The Chairman of our Board Rick Janega from Emera is on island and will be a part of the meeting with government.

256 thoughts on “Barbados Gone Dark

  1. @ akenatenI November 22, 2019 12:54 PM
    “The fuel tax & vat should be removed from electric bills of renewable energy customers. This would serve as an incentive for renewable energy.”

    Your proposal sounds altruistically commendable, especially in the current climate change debate.

    But tax what in its place to make up for this massive shortfall in tax revenues?
    What about ‘fast foods’ and BWA-piped water in excess of basic needs?

    Can’t you see the government is just being hypocritical when it comes to incentivizing the push towards a nation-wide renewable energy programme?

    The government takes a massive slice of the final price(s) paid by consumers for all fossil-based fuels sold in Barbados.

    Encouraging people away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources would be equivalent to the Government forcing people away from the consumption of alcohol to the ‘higher’ use cannabis.

    The consumption of alcohol is a massive money spinner in Bim from which the Treasury takes a sobering healthy share.

    Money will trump a cleaner healthier environment any day until it is too late when the harsh realities of global warming hit the crude oil fan.

    Although not yet flowing to American-owned refineries just look at how the black gold bonanza is turning Guyana into another Klondite in the tropical Atlantis.

    Now that the oil industry in Trinidad has gone up the creek would Barbados be getting its future imported oil supplies from crude mined offshore of its Caricom partner Guyana?

  2. @akenatenI

    Hear, hear!

    IMO, if these types of policies were implemented a lot more individuals and businesses would invest in PV deployments. The payback period would make economic sense for a larger number of entities.

    Also, battery backup solutions have become very sophisticated and relatively affordable recently. Although not the only option, Google for “Tesla Powerall”.

    Installation of this kind of technology in a wide geographical matrix could allow not only distributed generation, but also carbon-free emergency backup (even at night).

  3. @David

    This is fine. Prudent management; please keep in mind that this kind of work involves tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars, which must be very carefully planned, and amortized over decades.

    However, this doesn’t mean “Smart Grid” technology can’t be introduced over time. Heck, I would be very surprised if BL&P’s engineers and executives (most of whom are also engineers) haven’t already looked into this type of technology themselves.

    Again, I have no “insider” knowledge, but I suspect that if there were more PV installations feeding into the grid during the day, the current crisis might not have been quite as extreme. (I could be completely wrong on this.)

  4. 40 acres at Trents is equivalent to 10 mW.

    If you measure the square footage on Google Earth of installations around the island you can compute what the Private sector other than BL&P currently contributes to so called clean energy.

    For example, between Warrens and Cane Garden, Bizzy has about 1.5 acres of roof cover with photo voltaic panels.

    So, maybe about 0.25-0.50 mW!!

    In the kWatt range!!

    Bizzy scrapped the wind turbine at Cane Garden years and years ago.

    I recall the QE2 stopped here in the 90’s and I went on a tour of the engine Room.

    Diesel electric propulsion.

    Output if I remember correctly was 90 odd mW,.

    At the time it could have supplied the entire island!!

    Don’t get too carried away with so called “clean energy”!!

    There is always a down side.

    Maybe the GOB could work a deal with the cruise ships (if diesel electric propulsion is used) to hook their generators into the grid while they are berthed in the port and BL&P has a problem!!

  5. Emera Inc. can afford to solve this problem. They have been doing a good job dealing with the ” Dorian ” destruction in the Bahamas and in Halifax.

    They are clearly responding to the crisis in Barbados.

    ” a specialized three-member mechanical team was flown into Barbados yesterday (Thursday) from The Bahamas, as well as a four-member team from Korea.”

    Meanwhile, through its parent company Emera Limited, BL&P has secured a temporary 12-megawatt generator, which is now loaded on a ship in Panama. That ship will sail on Monday and arrive in Barbados on December 5.”

  6. @David et al

    I happened to remember that I have some empirical data I can share which might be of some interest.

    Its graphs of the voltage levels experienced by a rack-mount UPS at a client’s facility way back in 2014. I have anonymized it.

    Please take a look at

    The page isn’t pretty (I just threw it together quickly) but it clearly shows that, at least in the Bridgetwon area, the peak power draw is during mid-day, mostly work-days.

    Just when PV would be most productive!

  7. Meanwhile, through its parent company Emera Limited, BL&P has secured a temporary 12-megawatt generator, which is now loaded on a ship in Panama. That ship will sail on Monday and arrive in Barbados on December 5.”


    That 12 mWatt generator will produce more electricity than the 40 acre solar farm at Trents.

    Suppose we could translate the 40 acres into a roof (several buildings) and transport it to the high elevations which have high rainfall.

    Suppose at those elevations we had 96 inches of rain per year.

    That would be 320 acre feet of water.

    Which is about 104 million gallons.

    Per day that is about 104/365 million gallons which is 250-300 thousand gallons of water per day.

    So what could be done with 250-300 thousand gallons of water per day at 1000 feet of elevation?

    With absolutely no electricity it could be run downhill to fill the reservoirs below it.

    The BWA would not need to pump water up from low elevations to consumers!!!

    It could reduce its fleet of tankers and not have to worry about the trucks falling into disrepair.

    The BWA could also control the water quality and mix it with the hard water extracted from underground.

    …. and it could keep its consumers happy.

    Doesn’t have to be a roof!!

  8. @ WURA-WAR-on-U November 22, 2019 4:39 PM


    What an excellent piece of imagery!
    A classic case of a Bajan monkey handling gun.
    Perfectly portrays the state of management in so-called modern Barbados.

  9. So if the BWA started with water at 1000 feet, how much electricity would they not need from the BL&P?

    Closest Pumping station to 1000 feet would be Sweet Bottom or Bowmanston.

    Bowmanston has a well that is c.250 feet deep.

    Bowmanston is at an elevation of 600 feet so the water would have to be raised c. 650 feet.

    c. 250 feet to the surface at 600 feet and then 400 feet to 1000 feet..

    How much power is needed to raise 250-300 thousand gallons 650 feet in one day, 24 hours?

    That would be the saving in electricity.

  10. Discovery Bay is on the West coast in Holetown.,-59.6100586,9595m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!2m4!5m3!5m2!4m1!1i2

    Turn on the Satellite and follow the gully that is disgorging the water to the sea.

    Two branches, one to Porey Spring the other via Lancaster to Mose Bottom.

    Look at the catchment area on either side of the gully.

    There is nowhere to store this volume of water at the rate it is flowing.

    The land on either side became saturated and the water ended up in the gully.

    The gully is running because it can’t absorb the water that is supplied to it.

    Not much to do but watch it go.

    Too much too fast.

    You could try building obstacles to slow its flow and give the porous nature of the gully a chance to work and get the water underground to be extracted from Trent’s Pumping station.

    I have heard talk about letting some divert into Rayside Quarry by PlumTree Plantation east of Highway 2A.

    But that is just talk.

    Most will still get to the sea.

  11. When I was learning about the gullies anytime there was a downpour I would drive down Highway 2A and stop on the Bridges.

    The roar of the water passing under them was clearly audible.

    Blowers, Lancaster were the most violent.

    One Sunday morning we started hiking from Haymans in the pouring rain at 6:00 am and walked up to Rock Hall by road.

    We could hear the water roaring in the gully between Rock Hall and Four Hills from the Road from the road.

    The rain fell for an hour.

    We walked around to Mile and a Quarter via Indian Ground and Portland and crossed a minor gully with water about chest high and flowing rapidly.

    It crossed Highway 2A under the bridge and went via Whim Gully to Speightstown.

    Can’t do much with that volume and rate of flow.

    Whatever is absorbed by the coral be thankful for.

  12. So why Arfur attacking MIA’s way of doing things suddenly so? Never has shown any love lost but the level has stepped up. How comes?

    Do they have a man waiting in the wings to challenge? Be wary of those who seek political power by secretive means. As the last guvment learned, bajans may take time, but dem get to the truth at the end.

  13. BERT officials keeps telling the country that govt is meeting its targets
    I only wish that for one day these officials would come down out of the clouds and see the way how barbadians are struggling to meet their targets of paying bills keeping a roof over their head finding bus fare to go job seeking
    Really! BERT officials are sitting on a secure cushion off the backs of suffering barbadians
    The time has come for BERT to understand that barbados is more than an economy it is also a society.
    BERT it is obvious that from your self serving comments which serves only to collect money due that Bert does not give a rats about the plight of suffering bajans and a country on the brink of social and environmental disaster

  14. That is what yall UPPITY IDIOTS GOT THE PEOPLE…for not listening to IMF, S&P, MOODY’S, Bloomberg etc from when they were WARNING from 2006 to 2015….BOTH STUPID governments that this would happen if both governments took no measures welll….neither government did… so NONE OF U SHOULD EVER ENTER THAT PARLIAMENT AGAIN…

    The then jackass in the central bank Marion Mottley or Arthur or Williams or whatever her name is said the then world recesssion could never cause problems for Barbados ….then called herself brilliant..

    …..then when the other blights entered parliament they not only said the same thing….BUT CUSSED all the above mentioned who said different……yall have no shame.

  15. Indeed it appears as if Barbados is making some giant steps backwards. I can remember boasting of the stability of our electric and water services when I was in Trinidad in the 1980’s. Now I am hearing of water tanks, water shortages and power failures. Have we become the Trinidad of 1980s???

  16. @ Theo

    It is called incompetence. I will bet anything that all the individuals involved have degrees – from BAs and BScs to PhDs. Some may even call themselves doctors.
    Our problem in Barbados is gross INCOMPETENCE not corruption. Look at the management of any institution, public or private, and you see incompetence. Anyone with management experience can spot it.
    Corruption comes from job insecurity, which comes from political paternalism and interference. Deal with it.

  17. Wuhloss, wuhloss, Alex is being called a liar on facebook, they say he telling lies about the fuel. I would believe Roger Blackman over him any day…cause the Jamaica Observer is saying something completely different to what Alex is saying about Petrojam’s products..their information is coming straight outta Petrojam

    … ya cannot believe what yardfowls placed in taxpayer funded positions of power by governments who are known crooks… say.

    “Despite denials from Petrojam that its supplies are compromised, a source who has intimate knowledge of operational deficiencies at Jamaica’s sole oil refinery has explained the source of the smelly gas, and is warning that it undermines vehicle performance and threatens long-term damage.

    The employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of disciplinary action, said the country could be on the verge of another bad-gas saga.

    “On the (Petrojam) compound, it has been making some people nauseous. Some people who have sinus problems, it has been affecting them because we are right in the middle of it,” the employee said.

    “It has been affecting the performance of cars. You start to experience your gas mileage suddenly going haywire, using more gas than usual. Your car will feel sluggish,” the employee told The Sunday Gleaner.”

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