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Blackout

Early this morning, a fire in the switching room of BELCO's main power plant in Hamilton resulted in the loss of electricity to most of Bermuda.

My wife first noticed something was wrong at around 5am. The air-conditioner in our bedroom had stopped. We've been hit by power cuts in the middle of the night before, but the outage has always been localised. Looking out of the window, we saw that the whole of St. George's and St. David's was shrouded in blackness. The only light came from the two cruise ships moored in the harbour. It was then that we realised this was more serious.

At 7am we still had no electricity. It was reminiscent of the aftermath of a hurricane: listening to the Government's emergency radio station for news, wondering how long it would take for power to be restored, wishing that it didn't have to mean the loss of water too (though with the current drought, perhaps that's a good thing). Many stores and offices have closed for the day. On North Shore, huge lines of traffic formed outside the few gas stations that were operational. By lunchtime, power had been restored to some areas (such as my in-laws' house) but not others (our house).

Information about exactly what happened is still sketchy, but people will inevitably ask if more could have been done to prevent such a catastrophic outage. Nonetheless, the blackouts in London and on the US East Coast a couple of years ago should remind us that it's not just Bermuda that's susceptible to these events.

Update: Coverage of the fire now online in the Royal Gazette, Bermuda Sun, Toronto Globe and Mail and Ireland Online.

Comments

» Politics.bm writes "Sadly, Monday has seen everything return to normal. After the excitement, disruption and bickering over the power outage, what happened, whose fault it is and how to prevent it happening again there was one thing that I was hoping power......"


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MAJOR POWER OUTAGE IN BERMUDA

For those of you not in Bermuda, a fire at Belco last night has resulted in a major power outage on the island. I am currently off the island and have had difficulty calling my family but finally got hold of them. The fire has been contained but the authorities are not giving too much information. Initially, I understand the power was to be restored by tonight and then tomorrow and now no mention is being made of when full power will be restored. Hamilton has been closed down and there is no electricity to businesses except those with generators. If I hear more I will post again.

Too soon to mention the T-word?

If this is true, thanks Lickenalong. Now thats what I call an "onion". God bless you, and all those little onions. Wondered why no-one was calling me names today.......

This is actually all my fault. I was in London shortly before the blackout there, in New York during the northeast blackout, and I've got a flight to Bermuda booked for tomorrow.

If anyone in Bermuda has power and can give us an update, it would be much appreciated.

Are flights affected? And most importantly, WILL THE LIGHTS BE ON AT DOCKSIDER'S?

Here's a picture taken this morning of the BELCO fire.

I heard this morning that the airport is still operational - just no AC apparently. Maybe they have a generator too, just not able to run the AC along with the check-in counters...

Docksiders would probably be closed - no power in town yet.

My office has generator to last 7 days and has already ordered fuel to top up the tanks. Seems that Logic is offline as their servers do not respond. Most businesses are closed as no power equals no way of using your card swipe to get inside! Whooops...

But the sun is shining and the beaches are apparently PACKED!

Had to go to thr airport for lunchtime...and all flights appear to be running normally.

Not sure what happens tonight though (landing lights etc), but presume they have their own generators?

One local company in Hamilton I know off is being advised that power may still be out tomorrow.

Ours - thankfully - returned this morning at about 6.30.

First the water, now the power.

We can forgive Belco, as they do try to pump lots of cash into the system.

Water shortage? Very poor government managment and oversight.

Combined makes us look like a banana republic.

I get more pissed day by day.

I am online now looking at generators and Reverse osmosis plants. If I can bridge the gap them my house (and my tenants) will be ready to ride out the storms of the hurricane season.

You guys can come and hang out in my basement if you like. Don't worry, it is huge and being renovated as extra bedrooms / wine cellar. Once we get the A/c down there it will be just like home.

Strange how the governement has been so quiet today...

How do you guys think the government and Belco has handled the situation thus far, I’m reasonably pleased, we've been kept informed via radio and evening news by the premier, public safety minister and Belco’s public relations rep, at least i have, not sure where you've been looking Somers. Thoughts?

Jake, Water shortage and a fire at the electrical station = Banana republic? surely you jest, otherwise tisk tisk, very silly.

No one was hurt that all that’s matters, on some level I think it’s good that we have to do with out power sometimes. Gets us off the internet, TV and into a good book, or outside or with our families, good things methinks.

We've been having rolling power outages in the BVI for weeks now as the electricity plant struggles to replace their ailing generators. As of this week the electricity department has even taken to cutting power specifically to those business with their own generators, as a form of forced load sharing. Our own generator at work has been running constantly for the last 4 days. Sadly (or luckily) this type of unreliable power service is so common in the bvi that most business and many private homes have already invested in their own generators, and life ticks along almost as before.


Jake

Perhaps you could post the results of your generator and r/o search? Maybe a group "power buy" for the LIB team?

Thx
Point

Cancundreaming,

I do jest, but only a little.

Think about it this way.

We want to be an international business hub. They cannot be interrrupted. Ever. Their staff are not used to infrastructure interruption.

We should be striving for 99.999% availability of telecommunications, electricity, water, and now internet.

Success on that front makes us modern.

Do you know what the cost is to a small Hamilton business to be out for two days? How about a law firm?

Now as a city we have pockets of available power which means that commerce is not seemless.

This is a much bigger problem then we are giving it credit, from a macro perspective. I love the time with family and I like to read too, but the country cannot tolerate shut downs.

We simply must do better.

As for the R/O search I am talking to Watlington and also ClearWater systems (which may be an affiliate). Cost for our apartment complex is going to be about $8K for R/O system. Note to file: add to the Capex list.

Looking at Home Depot for Generators. 40,000 Watts at about $11K. I am talking to Elite locally as well about long term plans for back up systems that kick in when Belco falls down.

Tell me something, those of you who rent locally in the Executive rental market (let's call it two or three bedroom market) - is backup power and R/O water an amenity that you would pay and extra for - if it is priced into the rent that is. The market is getting to be competitive and we are trying to find ways to offer better value for money than the next place.

Would love your thoughts...

jake, normally i see myself agreeing with you, but this time i think u r going just a little too far.

Jake says:
"We want to be an international business hub. They cannot be interrrupted. Ever. Their staff are not used to infrastructure interruption."

We ARE already an international business hub. They CAN be interrupted. Anywhere you go in the world, some sort of problems are to be expected. I think that the companies here would prefer a 1-2 day power outage at BELCO over a terrorist bombing in London/New York... or a tsunami... or a hurricane.

Like Mr. Madeiros said, systems do not work 100% of the time... this is one of those times. I too am not used to infrastructure interruptions, but i get over it and so far i've lived to see another day... so have the companies. The head of BIBA referred to it as a "blip".

Jake says:
"We should be striving for 99.999% availability of telecommunications, electricity, water, and now internet."

Well, 99% availability is about 361 days a year. So i think BELCO and most of the other infrastructures on the island are doing a great job. So far this year I have been without power for 3 hours in my home and 0 hours without water. The internet is probably a lot less reliable and costs way more than it should. I think that may need some real work.

It isn't a big problem. It's not like it happens every day...this is the first time something like this is happened in my lifetime. So to me it's not the end of the world, ACE, XL, Bacardi, etc aren't going to pack their bags over it and the necessary actions are being taken to fix the problem.

The country CAN afford to tolerate shutdowns. Most of the people here are too bent on having their electricity and water and cable and internet and everything else under the sun when they want it. It's good to have a blackout every now and then... that's where you realize the more important things in life. I dont think that's such a bad thing.

As for running out like a chicken with no head and buying a generator, while i will agree they are convenient, like i said before, it's not a bad thing if you have to go without for a little while. Many other places in the world have to worry about these things daily, for us, it's only once in a blue moon.

So stop worrying so much. Relax and go take a swim... you'll be back to work tomorrow anyway.

Will be incorporating a big breaker switch in my new house that says BELCO on one side and GENERATOR on the other. Then when the time comes I will be flicking the switch to generator & watlington water will take care of the rest. These features will be advertised next year when the apartment is rented out - will let you know if anyone questions the details...

To me though it only makes sense, and is a good investment. We are a tiny island and threats of hurricanes are an annual occurance. Why not reduce your worry and frustration for other things when a hurricane hits.

If someone is dealing with this for an extended amount of time - which sometimes during hurricanes you are likely to do, then having not to run power cords through the house is a major bonus I feel. The ability to have a shower at the end of the day is

I don't mind dealing with the generator issue - its just the power cords running through the house that gets to me.

To Question & Jake,
As an IT Manager, I have to agree with Jake, the rest of the world requires a standard (This is the "official" number) of 99.999% uptime or the planning of redundancy. As an IT guy, if i designed my systems in such a way that they could NOT toerate failure, and said oh we will be down a week or the servers can only be used for x amount of hours a day, I would be fired rapidly.

I HAVE to ask (well being MORE than understanding of the issue and not throwing in my personal residence to the equation) exactly why it is that Belco has ZERO redundancy. They should have a fair ammount of spare generator capacity and a fair ammount of spare switching capacity (ONE does NOT cut it). I realize that there was life before power, but I do agree with Jake that the reprecussions of large business being upset like this is not a good thing for Bermuda.

I think that instead of both governments either worrying about increasing their stock value or getting free power etc they ought to impose on Belco that they ADEQUATELY plan for all catastrophes that they might encounter or have maybe some backup sub stations along the way in case of emergency that arent used unless they had to be. If it was realistic, I would suggest competition be allowed! But short of starting it off all underground, I think we have TOO many phone poles and wires already to suggest that option!!!

I mean I am understanding and all on a personal level and I havent been put out by this too much, and I dont want to complain etc, but does anyone else find it odd that the POWER company of all people has close enough to ZERO redundancy?

-Tired Of Politics

Question,

99.999% is, as tired of politics points out, a technical standard, sometimes called five 9's. A lower standard is four 9's or three 9's. Two 9's would be unacceptable in any context. I should have been more clear about that.

I agree that there are better things in life to worry about. I like fun in the sun too.

I just think that we can do better and should do better.

As for me getting a generator, it is an investment in real estate to me. I think people will value the investment and I hope they will pay for it as well. Either way, we are a hurricane jurisdiction. We can accept that and plan for it, or rely exclusively on Belco.

The water issue is my own fault really because I should have had the tanks filled long ago. The R/O makes it cheaper I think as I pay $60 per load from my Water guy and with the R/O I think the number goes down the $30 - I need to do the math on that when I have the time, but it makes sense from an availability perspective and makes it convenient for me.

jake & Tired of Politics,

Thanks. You taught me something new.

I think you have to agree that BELCO has a very reliable system. The outage has been described by business as a "blip" and one that will be forgotten in a few days.

In any event, a backup system would be useful to a certain extent. It would be useful for this unique one-off situation that happened yesterday. But in the case of a hurricane, it wouldn't be very useful since the cause of the outages would be power line damage, not the station itself.

To me, the backup would be similar to insurance. It's good when something goes wrong, but when nothing goes wrong i wish i had my money back :)

So basically, BELCO doesn't break down every week. Does anyone know when is the last time the power went out due to something other than a hurricane?

should BELCO spend another $10 million for another main switchboard and faciility in the event that the "main" main switchboard goes up in flames?

What exactly should they do?

Gotta agree with Jake and Tired of politics on this one! If we are providing a service to International Business then we should set and maintain the level of service that International Business expects(i.e. redundancy built into that service), and not fall back to some sub-standard level we think International Business and other clients will put up with, because we're an Island. We have the ability and capacity why don't we make it happen?? I am tired of and somewhat embarassed as a Bermudian, of the indifference and complacency we show for such matters. I can tell you fairly confidently that what the news didn't report on was the flak Alex and Gary we're taking behind the scenes for this predicament. They did a great P.R. job of glossing over this "blip", but the fact of the matter is a major commercial center of business should never be out of business for four days straight(due to a preventable circumstance), if it considers itself a prominant developed international center of business. We are not BVI or any other island of the Caribbean.........but we are heading that way, if that's where we want to be going?????

ps. Phil keep up the good work, your editorials are refreshing and insightful. Don't let those detractors out there stop you from doing something which is essential and well received. Its unfortunate that most of us on this island don't have the fortitude to stand up and criticise openly, we're too busy protecting our own backsides!!

George,

I dont think that it's complacency that we show for such matters, it 's just that when the power goes out, most of us out there aren't going to sit there and cry about it.

The power goes out in other major cities in the U.S. and Canada. Evidently BELCO did have some sort of redundancy system, otherwise we wouldn't be posting messages on the internet right now. Their backup system does not support 100% capacity but it does supply 85MW out of the 115MW capacity.

Everyone keeps saying that they need a backup system, but do you want them to have a completely identical facility set up for like cases like this? Should they have 3 more major switchboards and 2 more diesel engines located somewhere else just in case the entire current facility goes up in flames? What is it that you want?

George, you can continue to be embarassed about the situation. I would be embarassed if everyone was like you and all we knew was how to live with electricity. You want a shower? Go and get one. You dont need running water to have one. Bermudian's have become too reliant upon things like this. Most of us can no longer farm, fish or build and to me that is even sadder than not being able to live without power.

As for the international businesses, if they want this super backup system that you are calling for, then BELCO can increase the price of electricity for the commercial sector so that they can pay for it. But for me, personally, I dont care. The power will be back on. We will live to see another day.

Or do you think the businesses will move back to New York, pay their income taxes to Uncle Sam, and still have an electric system that has the same vulnerability to blackouts.

Why is it that when things dont go according to normal, people like you get so afraid and think that the apocolypse is coming?

You were probably saying that all the companies were going to leave when the riots happened in the 70s too.

George, you are sad. Life goes on once the voltage stops flowing.

There is a lesson to be learned from this and that is that Belco has not built sufficient redundancy into its systems. Over the past few years Belco has focused on generating capacity but clearly has ignored the issue of redundant switching capacity. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that this is a major potential weakness in their operation. As Gary Madeiros has said all systems breakdown at some point, so why hasn't he and Belco planned for this eventuality? Quite frankly for a monopoly power supplier to be so ill-prepared is not acceptable.

Belco has moved ahead by light years from where it was 20 years ago but it has traditionally been a reactive organisation. It took hurrican Emily for them to recognise the failure in their power delivery lines (ie. old and rotting poles etc.). Once again it will take a major emergency for them to bring their systems up to the 21st century. But it will also take all of us to let them know that the current situation is not acceptable. If we all do not demand better then Belco will not invest. So don't be apologetic for Belco.

Ok, sounds like all of you are business people. And we all know that if Belco does what you want them to do, like all companies, it is likely they will try and pass on as much of the costs as possible to their customers.

So if this is what you are asking for, dont be upset when you look at your electricity bill and surprisingly it's higher than it used to be just because you decided Belco should invest in a secondary system that will hardly ever be used and cost just as much to maintain as the original all in the name of having 1-2 days more worth of electricity every 2-3 years.

Think people, do your cost/benefit analysis.

Belco says this will cost $10 million to repair. All you wannebe economists want to work out the loss to the Bermuda economy from lost work? How much will it cost to restore our reputation in the business sector?

question,

Bermuda presents itself as a first world country so it needs to live up to that billing. I am currently in the US where there were thunderstorms and our electricity went out. Within 10 minutes the electricity was restored. No doubt lightning hit a switch but they had sufficient redundancy to reroute the power supply. Bermuda should be able to do the same.

The practical reality: one of my clients, a huge international company was trying to close a major sale of one its assets owned through a Bermuda company. The closure of Hamilton created huge problems. Fortunately I was in the US and was able to handle things in a pretty makeshift manner. Crap happens and people understand but to close the major centre of business for more than one day is not acceptable in the business environment that Bermuda has chosen to be in.

If we are a first world country, then we have to act like one. As a result Belco has to become a first world electricity generator and distributor. That will not happen unless we pressure Belco.

In addition to the direct costs resulting from this situation is the indirect cost of Bermuda's loss of credibility in the international marketplace. If Belco is unable to get Hamilton up and running by Monday this impact will be considerable.

lickinalong,

From what i recall from August 2003, The US, (where you currently are located) and Canada suffered a massive blackout that lasted for days. Also from what i recall, it wasn't from a natural disaster or fire. From my understanding it was due to a mistake that occurred in a substation in (Ohio?), I believe. For 'first world countries' like the US and Canada i find it perplexing that one station could bring down a good portion of their respective countries. I find it even more perplexing that you would then point to the US as an example of what we should aspire to become.

My point, simply, is that you may have a valid point to some, (although i personally believe if it's in the vital business interests of a company/corporation to have 24/365 power supply they need to implement their own redundancy plans.) It's unfair to pretend that it does happen all across other first world countries because it does sometimes.

Lickenalong, some good points. So you are in the big business world! Guess what, us average day joe's pay the bill.

I remember when we had the Canadian Black out, and the Huge East and West coast blackouts. The dollar (US) was worth -23cents. The World fell apart. No Oil, no Water, no Food for a week.
Another group/resident/Alien came along and we still find ourselves confronted by the set of circustances.

Wall Street falls and fails but us everyday person will continue on. They will come to us for advice and what our Market thoughts are. We tell them, go back to square one. Square one you say!. Yes. Cell phones!! This piece of rock worked well without them and will continue.

The Human spirit, well thats another avenue that seems to be less traveld. Will we overcome? Yes. As stated before, "how to screw your neighbour without having sex.

Just my opinion. Everyone has one. What are the residents doing about what we are talking about. If all the Companies from abroad leave, life will go on. May take a litle adjustment but is'nt that what it's all about.

Drivel, no it's not

Life, yes it is.

Great day to all. Hope the power comes on soon, if not, everyone will survive.

Terry,

Talk is cheap. You may think that you are ready to return to the lifestyle of the 1950s but you will soon tire of it, I can assure you. If you have ever lived in a community that has faced a substantial economic contraction, you will know that the pain and suffering is considerable. And it is the little guys who gets hurt the most. So don't give us your pious, "I can take it" drivel. Any major contraction in Bermuda's economy will be really painful.

Cancundreaming,

In the Great Blackout of 2003, power was restored to most metropolitan areas within 12 hours. The blackout ocurred at around 4:00pm and by 8:00pm subways were running in NYC. The impact of the blackout as brief as it was was estimated to be US$6billion. If we are lucky, power will be restored in Hamilton by Monday which is over 96 hours since the power outage started. From the language used by Belco, I am doubtful that goal will be achieved but I know Belco are going to do their best.

From the statistics that Belco has given, they have substantive redundant capacity in generation since they can generate 160KW of electricity and peak load is 110 KW. On the other hand they seem to have a shortage of capacity in switching. By my estimate they should have had available an addition 2 to 3 switches if they were to build a similar backup provision in this area. I for one would be willing to pay the additional cost of this redundancy just as I am willing to pay the additional cost of the extra generating capacity.

BTW, isn't it time that the Government started to give tax relief on gasoline tax. As the price of gasoline increases the Government's take on this tax increases as well adding to the costs we all must face. This is a windfall tax increase that at some point should be capped. Now would be a good time to give us all that benefit.

I think question is going off on a tangent.

Belco spends around $23mm annually on capital expenditure. They carry a limited amount of debt. They can facilitate a $10mm capex to satisfy service levels.

It is clear that you do not understand that we enjoy a quality of life in Bermuda because we have international business here with us. It is not a case of "we little people paying". We all pay. The fact that they pick up the cost of what they use makes us all have a better service through economies of scale, and better returns for Belco shareholders. You can become one. It costs about $41 a share so that should be ok for the little people too.

Tax relief is an option, but so are hedges on oil prices. I wonder to what extent Belco engages in hedging activity to smooth out the cost of oil price increases.

By the way, the big companies do have emergency back up, but they are in the insurance business - not the power business. It is probably more efficient for Belco to provide the redundancy and let the insurers provide the insurance capacity.

Just an idea.

Licken, "pious". 50's? As you said talk is cheap.
So is yours. Another Gilbert taken over the Airways/Websites.

Those were the best days, when we did'nt have to listen or read YOUR drivel.....

Arrivederci...................

I'm going off on a tangent?

You and lickinalong are the ones talking about gasoline tax relief. I think that's going off the topic more than i am.

All i am saying is that if it is the commercial sector that requires this 24/7/365 electricity, then they should be the ones to pay for it, not the residential customers because it is not necessary for us. Believe me, I can live without it for a little while. I can assure you that you can as well jake.

And please dont make it sound like we are the only ones benefitting from these companies being here. And you know they are making more out of the deal than the country is.

Bermuda earnings: $2 billion >> IB earnings: probably more like $200 billion. That EoS crap is riduculous because one on hand prices may go down due to EoS but prices probably go up due to increased demand and limited supply.

Dont compare us to the U.S. or any other country. Bermuda is unique. Comparing our electricity, water, transport, etc. systems to the U.S. is like comparing apples and oranges.

If the big companies have a back up system, then use it... that's what they bought it for. it's not like it works for one day and then after that the main power has to be back on in order for them to operate.

I went to Masters today but it was closed... no biggie, i'll go another day. What doesn't get done today will get done tomorrow, or the day after it. The main message is that life goes on.

Terry,
If you are going to engage in discussion then defend yourself! If you disagree with my sentiments then attack my ideas! Don't cop out by attacking the messenger. That only shows how shallow your arguments are.

By the way I consider myself in good company with Guilden.

question,
I have no problem with the private sector covering the cost of this type of redundancy, provided that they are given priority when there is a blackout. I am not sure how that would play politically. In this case it would probably mean that 50% of the residential customers would have been without electricity for 4 days while businesses would have been open.

question, I think we have a deal.

Actually lickinalong,

The commercial sector would have be online 100% while the residential sector would be exactly as it is at this very moment.

The redundancy system that will be added would have nothing to do with the existing system.

I'm not sure how you get your numbers. Please clarify if you still think you are right.


Lick....

"I have no problem with the private sector covering the cost of this type of redundancy, provided that they are given priority when there is a blackout".

Have I read the news wrongly, or is that going to happen in any event Monday to Friday next week?

Hamilton will get the power at the expense of domestic users.

Sometimes I wonder what we’re arguing about, really though.

lickinalong,

I think you have missed my point. Yes NYC’s power may have been restored in a few hours. However, there were numerous other parts of both countries that were not, including, small communities and other notable cities, such as Toronto I believe. Either way Bermuda and NYC are so different that any comparison is silly, really though. Do it though, compare the power production and redundancy systems of Bermuda to those of NYC, which is tied into the power production of the US, which means you’re comparing Bermuda to the United States and see if it makes sense at all.

Yes, some metropolitan areas might have been restored quickly, but Bermuda is not a metropolitan area. Yes we may have a strong business infrastructure, one that we should always strive to improve, but there are things inherent to the fact that we’re an island in the middle of the Atlantic that prevents certain qualities; Such as an electricity redundancy system equal to NYC and I think it’s ok, and I think most companies think it’s ok. If you were to ask them the Top 10 issues that they think affects their businesses in Bermuda, I doubt many would mention Belco’s redundancy capabilities, considering the rarity of power outages that aren’t a result of hurricanes.

Now if you want to compare us to the Cayman Islands, or perhaps Guernsey, or the Bahamas, then perhaps we can talk. (Actually, I would be interested to see what capabilities they have, as they’re far more similar to Bermuda then NYC.)

Jake,

I don’t think the standard for those who have a lack of understanding about the role the international business sector plays in our economy is if the person disagrees with what you have to say. In fact, to suggest that question may lack that ‘understanding’ is a horribly condescending statement.

Yes the big companies may be in the insurance sector, but they’re In the power business. They’re into the business of anything and everything that effects their bottom line, that effects their ability to conduct their business, which including infrastructure which includes power production. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that these companies invest in redundancy systems to backup the redundancy systems that Belco has in place. (If Marketplace can have a redundancy system, i don't see the difficulty in the expectation that these large international insurance and financial companies invest in system of their own) I will also like to point out that no level of redundancy will prevent outages from hurricanes and tropical storms unless we’re prepared to dig up the island and play power lines undergrounds, which still may not solve that concern.

Martin

For two business days, 4 full days, residential users have had priority over businesses in Hamilton. My server is down and my clients are getting their emails returned to them with no explanations. How many have been pissed off, I really do not know. But I am worried. For the record mine is a small business with 2 employees so I do not have the luxury of an Ace or XL.

On Monday, hopefully electricity will be restored in Hamilton. I quite frankly am hopeful but sceptical. Thus far the private sector in Hamilton has been given the short end of the stick in favor of residential users. I can live with that until Monday but if we are still left in the dark at that point, I will really be pissed off.

Cancundreaming,

Bermuda with good reason considers itself a world class business centre. We are the 3rd largest insurance market in the world. If we intend to compete in world marketplaces we need to see ourselves in terms of places such as NYC. If we compare ourselves to the standards in other offshore centers then we will be no better than them. One of the reasons that my clients deal with us is that Bermuda is more efficient. It is also more expensive but getting things done is why my clients are in Bermuda. It is our biggest competitive advantage.

lickinalong,

how many times have you been without electricity in bermuda for something other than a hurricane?

i would really like to know how much you and your business suffers from this occurrence, which sounds like it is very frequent considering the way that you are whining about it.

Question,
What I am starting to realise is that there is a disconnect on this issue on two fronts.

Individuals who do not have their own business, and do not have to pay a payroll, rent and other fixed costs, tend to underestimate the impact of several days closure on a business. I would guess that 90% of Bermudians fall into this category and for them the closure may be an inconvenience or even a welcome paid holiday. My costs continue (except for electricity) and may be increased since there may be some computer issues that will need to be addressed.

The second disconnect is that many Bermudians fail to understand the immediate requirements of international business. Bermuda is in the enviable position of being the best offshore centre in the world. I have clients who would be better to place their business in other locations but because of the slow reaction time, poor infrastructure and lack of depth of professionals in those locations they choose to place the bulk of their business in Bermuda. They pay a lot more but they are happy to do this, provided they get superior service. Unfortunately closing down the island for two days does little to preserve our reputation. It's a downhill slope that will only accelerate if we don't arrest it. Those who do not work in this business probably don't understand how important the immediacy and availabilty of service is to these customers of Bermuda.

There is probably a third disconnect and that is a belief by some Bermudians such as Terry that Bermuda and Bermudians would be better off without international business. As a Bermudian working in the business, I think this belief is understandable but misguided.

My whining as you call it is in response to posts that were somewhat apologetic for the Belco. I have been disappointed that Belco placed all of us in such a vulnerable position and felt that another view needed to be presented. You suggested that businesses pay for this additional redundancy. I agreed, provided that business got priority for power in the event of future power failures. In actual fact, from an economic and community perspective this makes sense. If you turn off the economic engine of the island we all will ultimately suffer whereas individuals can handle some short term hardship with lesser long term impact.

If business paid 10% or even 15% more for their electricity to provide for the redundancy that I am suggesting, would you have problems with business getting priority in the event of a major power outage? If so why? By the way I figure the redundancy that I am talking about would cost less than a 2% increase in power costs if we all paid for it.

Thanks Lickenalong, I take that as a compliment.

90% of Bermdudians fall into this catergory"

Terry, and others think Bermuda would be better off without International Business".

Since I never said that, you seem to read between lines that don't exist. This is about the Blackout in Bermuda and nothing to do with how you run your business. The reason you do it there is exactly why you wine about it. You would not do it if there was no profit. Thats why your not in the Indies or whatever.
Redundency, well your becomming that. You have made some points but stop going on about how much money you make and what a great Leader amongst your ewmployees.

Things happen. Does your business have a generator. Might be a good investment.

To bad you think of your fellow Onions with so litle esteme.

This is about a fire at Belco, not your business ventures and how you can solve all our problems.

Then again, were in the 2000's right, not the 50's. My opinions are just as valid as yours, may differ but that does not make you correct.
Trying to think of something sarcastic to say but I won't go that route. Why should I, we make up 90%................

lickinalong,

i'll address your disconnects:

1st: if 90% of Bermudian's fall into this category, then you should be able to spot that a random highly unfrequent power outage such as the one we experienced on thursday provides no incentive for them to increase their electricity costs as customers of Belco. if there is a small segment of the island that need non-stop power for all of eternity in order to survive, then THEY should be the ones to pay for it.

2nd: There has been a disconnect between the people of this country and IB ever since they started to come here. This is why we have so many expats here to take the place of jobs that Bermudian's have not been adequately trained for. You say that this is an accelerating downhill slope, but how??? Are there more long-term power outages expected in the future that only the great lickinalong is able to see? This doesn't happen every day. It doesn't happen every week, month, year or even 5 years! It's not a downhill slope. It's not going to get worse. So stop trying to blow things out of proportion.

3rd: IB has it's benefits... it also has it's costs/problems. Their lack of commitment to Bermuda's long term prosperity is a cause of concern for many people. I mean, these companies are willing to sell out their own countries but not paying their fair share of taxes, so what makes you think that they have some dedication and loyalty to us? We know that IB helps out country. And just like you are working to try and make the power system better, Bermudians just want to see the negative effects of IB diminished. There's nothing wrong with that. Wouldn't you agree?

You are disappointed with Belco. And it's good that you have presented another perspective. But I think we have seen that this is having a long term traumatic effect on a certain segment of Belco's customers... not all of them. And if it is these customers who want this added service, then they should pay for it. You have agreed on this point on more than one occasion.

Again, i'm not sure where you get your percentages from, but that's irrelevant right now. With regards to priority, obviously if the commercial sector pays for it, then yes, ok, i give, they can get priority. But i think you fail to see that this doesn't have any effect whatsoever on the residential side. While we were still without power for a short time (e.g. 3 hours for me), that time isn't going to increase or decrease due to the introduction of this proposed system you speak of... please let me know if you understand yet.

I heard that Supermart had to throw out $150K worth of perishables before reopening yesterday. Assume that all Hamilton restaurants, cafes, etc would be in the same situation which will add to the overall financial impact.

Question and Terry,

You guys are beating up on lickalong, which only reinforces the perception of disconnect.

Tourism does not provide the income the country needs to survive. IB + Tourism does.

If there were some environmental threat to our beaches it would be obvious that even if we did not work in tourism, we should be concerned.

IB is the same way. Service and service levels keep business flowing. What you deem as a few days off has significant economic impact on the businesses we need to keep the country viable. Lick is not just talking about his business. He is talking about our economy, and the perception of our ability to handle the demands placed on us by our client base.

Ultimately, Belco, as the provider of service to these companies makes money by keeping them up and running. all of their growth projections are based on new building contruction, so all of this is pretty academic. They will be fixing the redundancy issues and service will be improved.

Business to business it will be settled.

P.S. If I was condescending, I did not intend it, so my apologies.

lickinalong,

You seem to suggest that Belco implement some sort of redundancy system to ensure that this doesn’t happen again, specifically to ensure that Hamilton, our business center isn’t without power for an extended period of time. I think everyone here would agree with your goal, I hope that no area of the island is every without power again.

You suggest that either the commercial sector should pay for it and receive priority in terms of future power distribution, or we all should pay for it as it will ultimately help our country, either by an increase in our belco bills or government tax breaks.

I think most Bermudians feel for everyone, including businesses that were and are affected by the blackout. However, the reason why I think your suggestion makes little sense is because it wouldn’t fulfill it’s intended goal. The only way the electric company can implement a true redundancy system is if they absolutely separate it from Belco’s main facility, i.e. another power plant, and it’s been said over and over again that’s untenable for a country like Bermuda.

Belco can implement the type of redundancy system you suggest but it won’t stop blackouts from occurring. If a hurricane hits the island and lands a car in Belco’s generator, the power will go out, and they can put in as many redundancy switches as they want. Moreover, I’m sure there are numerous other ways the power can be disrupted that wouldn't be prevented by your solution.

The only way for your company to achieve true redundancy protection is if it buys or secures the use of a generator. I really don’t see why you’re suggesting that the redundancy system be built within Belco system, that only complicates the matter. The beauty of generator is that it has nothing to do with Belco, you bring it in; add fuel and you have power.

Now if you’re suggesting that the government give tax breaks for businesses to bring in their own generators I’m all for that. But the businesses must make the decision, they most do their own cost benefit analysis and decide for themselves if it’s worth it for their company. (i.e Marketplace in Hamilton which has been using a generator, and Shopping Center which hotspur said had to throw away $150,000 worth of food because of their lack of a generator)

Shopping Centre looses $150.000 in food! Throws it away. Does't Market Place own this business?

Correct me if I am wrong.

If so, so much for, well you know what....

Terry,

Cancundreaming probably meant so say Supermart, which is not owned by The Market Place.

jake,

I think that Cancundreaming has summed it up for us once again. The redundancy system you all keep calling for is impractical. It would require an entirely separate power station, diesel engines, switchboards, etc.

When an outage occurs, you are expecting absolutely no interruption in service and that's just not going to happen unless they have a separate backup system that is identical to the existing one.

This isn't like your IT job where you can move data around, have backup servers offsite, etc. The energy produced from Belco cannot be stored (i think) so this is where it differs from your IT jobs.

You think that if one of those nuclear power plants in the U.S. had an explosion that they would have the power reconnected within 4 days? Or should they have another plant right a few miles away so in case one blows up, they could use the other in it's place...that would be a pretty expensive redundancy plan.

You guys keep talking about how Belco has not been able to provide thier service so now the companies are going to be upset and not want to come to Bermuda and the ones that are here will probably get up and leave. Like i said before, a LOT more than this will have to happen before they even start to think about going elsewhere. Ever since the outage, jake and his crew just seem to be discounting the extremely high economic advantages that our country provides.

The pros of operating here in Bermuda far outweigh the cons. Yes, this doesn't look good, but our ability to handle it has been remarkable. You didn't have people going crazy, looting businesses and committing other crimes. Our stability has still not been shaken and you just have to come to that reality.

Additional switching capacity does not mean building a second Belco. We have sufficient redundancy at the generator stage.

We are not saying it is all doom and gloom. We are saying that this is an area we can improve in. To say the pros outweigh the cons is correct. It does not mean that we should not constantly improve.

Tanks Question. I just asked my wife about the definition of Redundancy She told me that it does not effect me. She has one Husband, and that all. If she had four, then we would be all trying to do the same job. All of us would be doing it to some extent, some a little lower watage.

They never should have given up, shipped abroad the reminants etc. of the Naval Base Generating Plant. That way Limey could relax and watch the Radar going round and round, instead of wondering what tis goonie bird would say next.

I say, "lets get redundant", then kick some ass.

If we don't, then we will become refundrant.

Have to go chack my janirator..........

Terry... lol :)

jake,

obviously we do not have enough "redundancy at the generating stage. if you listened to the news reports, the people at Belco were holding their breath because they were concerned that the fire was nearing the diesel engines at the plant.

so according to you, if they didn't have enough redundancy for the switches (i.e. because they did not have a backup main switch board... along with two secondary switches that also got damaged), then the diesel engines that generate the electricity are just as vulnerable.

so what i'm asking is that since they need the additional switches in case the main ones catch fire and explode (they actually still do not know what happened), then surely they will need the backup engines in case of a fire in the engine room. it's not about whether they have enough generating power, it's what are they to do when the generators are no longer operable? ...that's what i thought you were asking.

Question,

Redundancy calculations are not simply based on having a second item of everything that you need. It is also based on statistical probability of how often you will need something, and the likelyhood of certain items breaking down. I have not done a detailed assessment of Belco's plant so there is a limit to how definitive we can be in this discussion.

Notwithstanding that, the goal of greater redundancy is one that I support, based primarily in the business needs of the country.

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