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Faulty transmission line causes major blackout throughout Belize

HighlightsFaulty transmission line causes major blackout throughout Belize

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 8, 2024

A major power outage plunged Belize into darkness late Wednesday night, leaving residents without electricity for several hours. The blackout, which began just after 11:00 p.m. on February 7 and lasted until around 2:00 a.m. on February 8, affected nearly all regions of the country, excluding the Corozal District.

Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), the nation’s primary electricity provider, swiftly responded to the crisis, informing customers through their BEL Power Updates Facebook page of the unexpected interruption and their efforts to investigate and address the cause.

“Our BEL team is aware of an unplanned outage affecting majority of the country and is currently investigating the cause of the outage to restore power as soon as possible,” the company stated.

This outage comes only a day after BEL previously announced a disconnection from Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) due to planned maintenance work on the interconnection between BEL’s transmission grid and CFE’s substation at Xulha.

The disconnection was expected to last for five days, from February 5 to February 9, during which Belize has to rely solely on its local energy sources, which BEL assured would be sufficient.

“We have sufficient in-country capacity from local energy sources, including hydro, biomass, fossil fuel, solar and BEL’s own gas turbine (GT), to meet the energy demand countrywide,” they explained.

In search for answers to see if the outage was related, today BEL revealed, via a press release dated February 8, that the cause of the blackout was actually due to a protective shield wire coming into contact with the transmission line in the Orange Walk District.

The shield wire, crucial for protecting the transmission lines from lightning strikes, accidentally disrupted the power supply.

Power was progressively restored across the country, with the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts seeing electricity return around midnight, and the remainder of the country, except for Orange Walk, by 2:19 a.m. on February 8.

Orange Walk didn’t get power until later because an emergency power outage was necessary in the district, from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m., to facilitate urgent repairs to the lightning protective equipment on the transmission line.

“BEL apologizes for the inconvenience caused and thanks our Customers for their patience and understanding while our teams worked to stabilize the national grid,” their release read.

Our attempts for an interview for further comment were unsuccessful. We were told to resort to the release.

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