Last Friday evening, at around 2030hrs Gibraltar suffered a major power outage which effectively resulted in some 75% of the community being left with any power. This outage was the most serious and significant in some years, and was mitigated by the equipment responding properly in shutting down and thereby preventing any further damage or incident.
The outage was caused by a fault in the 11KV High Voltage Distribution Switch and not by a failure in the power generation at the North Mole Power Station. The fault in the Switch correctly isolated the damage to ensure that no further damage occurred and that work on restoring power to affected areas could commence. The design of this high voltage equipment has effectively worked correctly by safeguarding the remaining healthy elements of the distribution centre enabling the GEA to reconfigure the power grid to be able to re-energise the affected customers, bypassing the damaged Distribution switch.
The emergency power supply through the skid generators contracted to the GEA were of no use as the fault was in the Switchgear and not in the power generation and supply which was working normally.
It is of critical importance in these situations involving High Voltage generation and distribution that every precaution is taken when investigating faults and restoring power to consumers to protect the employees of the GEA as their safety is of paramount importance. The work of restoring power is only commenced when it is deemed safe to do so by the technical team at the GEA.
The GEA is pleased to report that it has over the weekend fully repaired the damage to the High Voltage Distribution Switch, and the Power Station is now operating normally again.
The GEA is currently taking advice on the damage and considering a warranty claim.
The GEA would like to apologise to its customers for this power outage and to assure the public that it continues to work to limit any and all interruptions to its service.