APUA says early prep reduced electricity down time

Electricity will be restored island wide in three to four days, said an Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) business unit representative.

Jason Peters, an APUA transmission and distribution engineer, said it took seven to eight days to restore electricity after Category 5 Hurricane Irma. But post-Hurricane Maria, also a Category 5 storm, the restoration time frame is cut in half. This speedy recovery is the direct result, he said, of workmen clearing trees near power lines before the storm, which minimised the damage.

But before the grid is “energised,” the entire circuit has to pass a safety check, although the first assessments of the distribution network show minimal damage.

A number of utility poles are down and crews have been dispatched and are committed to working overtime. APUA has a “social obligation,” Peters said, to provide the population with power.

“They recognised their mission and responsibility to Antigua, and, without a fuss, they were willing [to] work. They are somewhat rejuvenated. Big up to those guys who put themselves out there for the nation.”

APUA is using these frequent storms to build climate resilient capabilities within their network. Peters explained that preparations for future storms include maintenance practices that the statutory body needs to “fully embark on.”

During Peters interview on OBSERVER radio’s morning programme yesterday, he said APUA selects the grid’s total down time based upon updates provided by the Met office.

Before Hurricane Maria’s winds began to affect Antigua, APUA officials decided to keep the power on because the system could withstand the anticipated wind speeds based upon the Met office estimates. Once those levels were exceeded, APUA cut service after 8:00 pm on Monday in most villages.