Sandy damage shocks power company
The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) late yesterday reported that it has restored power to more than 80 per cent of its customers.
However, the company admitted that the damage to its infrastructure is greater than revealed by the initial assessments.
"It is still too early to give a full report on the extent of the damage to the power infrastructure, but it is clear that it is worse than we originally thought," said JPS president and CEO, Kelly Tomblin.
"When we first did our assessments, we did not have access to some of the more remote areas. We are still having significant challenges due to landslides and uprooted vegetation. However, now that we are getting access to more areas, we are finding some pretty difficult situations," added Tomblin.
She said the company still has hundreds of poles and several kilometres of damaged lines that need to be addressed before it can bring all its customers back on to the grid.
"It's important to bear in mind that the restoration of power is a very tedious and time-consuming process which involves damage assessment and repair of damage before we energise the lines - this sometimes requires the input of different groups of experts.
"In addition, even the tiniest damage to a small piece of equipment on the network will delay the restoration process," Tomblin explained.
The JPS president indicated that the greatest problems still to be addressed are in the parishes of St Andrew, St Mary, St Thomas and Portland.
"Over 80 per cent of customers in St Andrew now have power supply - most of those without power are in the areas to which the company has been having access challenges, and where the damage to the system is extensive.
"Power has been restored to 30 per cent of customers in St Mary and St Thomas - widespread damage to the infrastructure has slowed progress in these parishes," said Tomblin.
She noted that restoration in Portland is severely hampered by a combination of factors, including damage to the transmission line, difficulty carrying out repairs with the saturated soil conditions, and access challenges.
"We expect to make a major breakthrough in Portland with the energising of one of the transmission lines within a few hours. This means we will be able to start bringing our Portland customers back on to the system tonight (Saturday)," Tomblin assured.
"Despite the challenges, our restoration teams continue to work round the clock to get power to customers safely and quickly. Please understand that I have to allow my crews to rest, but they have been working very long hours because they know how important it is to get everyone back on the grid as quickly as possible," Tomblin stressed.