Wandering through Road Town on Monday afternoon, one would have heard a symphony of frustrated sighs and humming back-up generators. Bartenders served drinks behind unlit bars. Cooks abandoned their kitchens. People sweated.

Residents of other neighbourhoods throughout the territory dealt with similar inconveniences as a system-wide power outage kept people from their computer screens and wall chargers for as long as eight hours in some places.

However, Henry Creque, deputy director of the BVI Electricity Corporation, noted that the shutdown — which he said was the longest system-wide outage in recent memory — was likely just a hiccup on the road to what will be a much more effective system across the Virgin Islands.

Monday, he explained, was the first day the three new Wartsila generators were on stream all at once, which led to the tripping of a breaker connecting the new machines withthe existing power system.

The fault triggered a system outage a few minutes after noon. It took about an hour for officials to identify the problem, Mr. Creque said. However, after workers spent a few hours restoring the breaker issue, another problem developed with the voltage transformer in the same area.

Fixing that problem consumed the remainder of the afternoon, with certain areas regaining power around 5 p.m. and others — including Virgin Gorda — forced to wait as late as 8:30 p.m., according to the deputy director.

Though those specific issues were identified and likely will not have to be dealt with again, Mr. Creque warned that another power outage could happen during the generators’ transition period.

“When you’re tying a complete new station into an existing station, there is always the potential for other issues,” he said.

However, these potential problems are a result of the transition and should not plague the grid over the long term, Mr. Creque added.

See the March 23, 2017 edition for full coverage.

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