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Power cuts ‘reinforce need for clear energy policy direction’

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ISOLATED power cuts have continued to affect areas across Guernsey, with at least one restaurant losing significant business.

Infrastructure and Facilities Manager at C5 Alliance Mark Alderton with the Volvo generator that produces backup power in case of an electricity outage. Pictured with Volvo generator. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 22709713)

The island-wide power cut on Monday left properties without electricity for at least 35 minutes, with traffic lights going off during the rush hour. Residents took to social media to report further blackouts on Tuesday evening in parishes including Vale, St Peter’s, Castel and St Martin’s.

La Reunion Restaurant in Cobo was affected twice by the further power outage on Tuesday, but also suffered an issue last month. Restaurant manager Baptiste Bare said that without updates on how long the blackouts last, they don’t know what to tell customers: ‘Unfortunately for us the power cuts were during service, they both lasted about 20 to 30 minutes,’ he said.

‘If everything here goes out we can’t even send orders to the kitchen as that is all done digitally. It’s pretty bad when it happens during peak times and we don’t know when it will be back. Normally, Guernsey Electricity update their Facebook to say what’s going on, they didn’t do this on Tuesday. If we don’t know when power will be back we have to send the guests home and credit their meal. It’s very stressful for the team when we don’t know what’s going on. I understand it wasn’t for long, but still twice in one day plus the Monday. I don’t know what’s going on.’

Mr Bare added: ‘It happened to us a month ago. It was for about three hours and we lost a lot of businesses from that.

‘We had to call about 50 guests with bookings as we didn’t know when the power would be back.’

A Guernsey Electricity spokesperson said the further issues may be due to generating all electricity on-island.

‘The investigation into the cause of the initial incident is continuing in both Guernsey and Jersey, and due to the complexity of the cable protection systems and the nature of the issue this may take some time,’ they said.

‘Our power station is maintained as a backup electricity supply to the cable connection to France, via Jersey.

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‘When the power station is required to be used for a prolonged period of unplanned generation, we can experience some technical issues whilst the generators are brought back into full operation.

‘To protect and minimise against these issues we have systems to limit the impact and ensure the majority of customers stay on supply.

‘We expect less of these issues to occur over the coming days. We understand that power cuts can be frustrating and appreciate our customers’ patience during this time and while investigations continue.

‘This incident again reinforces the need for clear energy policy direction on the required security of supply for the island, as well as the island’s environmental and renewable aspirations.

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‘All of these remain very important in setting the direction of travel for infrastructure investments.

‘Early energy policy direction is particularly important for reaching a decision on making what will be the company’s largest ever capital investment, a second subsea cable to the island. The proposed subsea cable direct to France will further improve electricity security and increase the capacity to access affordable low carbon electricity for the island.’

C5 Alliance’s data centre manager explained how they protect their customers from events such as power cuts.

The data service has more than 80 racks of information from companies globally such as gaming, financial, banks and trust companies.

Mark Alderton, Infrastructure & Facilities Manager, said: ‘Basically this is their computer rooms when they can either not afford to, or don’t have the space to have one at their office.’

To protect all of the information from problems such as energy spikes and power cuts, they have battery-powered Uninterrupted Power Supplies which go into action within 90 seconds of a blackout.

These batteries are powered by two Volvo Diesel engines, which are the same ones used in transatlantic fishing trawlers.

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