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Cabinet yesterday (August 21), examined the preliminary report it received from Canadian consultants investigating the possible reasons that plunged the island into a widespread blackout last month, Information and Development Minister, Senator Colin Campbell has said.
Addressing journalists at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, the Minister said based on five observation findings and concerns identified in the report, Cabinet made a decision that, “they warranted discussions with the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Company Limited, and as a result, those discussions are to take place”.
The consultants, whose services were contracted by the Government, following Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s dissatisfaction with the JPS’ initial report on the blackout, were asked to determine the cause or causes of the islandwide blackout and to propose short term measures to alleviate or rectify any fault detected on the JPS transmission or distribution systems.
Furthermore, Minister Campbell said the consultants were also asked “to propose long term corrective measures which should be implemented to prevent another islandwide or widespread power blackout”.
During their visit from August 9 to 15, the overseas officials, drawn from two consulting firms, visited and inspected the power supply substations and facilities which featured in the blackout – the JPS generation and transmission facilities at the Bogue and Old Harbour substations – as well as the private power facility owned and operated by Jamaica Energy Partners (JEP) at Old Harbour Bay in St. Catherine.
The Minister pointed out that the consultants interviewed key technical personnel employed to JPS and JEP at the relevant substations and facilities, as to their technical observations at the time of the blackout, efforts to restart the system as well as other relevant activities.
“They collected substantial technical data and information on JPS technical operations, including maintenance activities, system designs, protective devices and interconnection facilities with the private power producers,” he noted.
Subsequent to their investigations, the consultants provided briefs to the Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce Minister, Phillip Paulwell and government appointees on the JPS Board.
While the government has expressed its intent to meet with the management of the JPS to examine the consultants’ preliminary report more closely, Minister Campbell indicated that a second team of consultants are expected to arrive in the island today (August 22) for a three-day visit to review regulatory, legal and administrative matters relating to the blackout.