With current predictions for the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season indicating that it will be an ‘above normal’ one; the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC) has bolstered its preparations, with the goal of ensuring that members are able to successfully mitigate any hurricane related impacts.
The Association is currently facilitating the training of 163 lineworkers from 13 Caribbean territories to strengthen its ability to render power restoration assistance post-disaster, to member utilities. This initiative, titled ‘The CARILEC Disaster Assistance Program (CDAP) Expansion Project’, aims to increase power restoration capacity within several territories.
The training is centred around technical aspects of post-disaster power line and electric infrastructure restoration, as well as safety and security matters. It is expected to be completed at the end of May 2022, in time for the commencement of the hurricane season.
The project is funded by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). In addition to the hosting of the annual Disaster Management Coordinators Roundtable and Occupational Health and Safety Seminar for member utilities, CARILEC has also added a Utility Lineworkers Roundtable to its calendar of events for 2022.
This event will be held on June 14, 2022, with the objective of facilitating capacity building, knowledge sharing, and networking among lineworkers, against the backdrop of the training received through the CDAP Expansion Project. Critical topics to be discussed at the Lineworkers Roundtable include the importance of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) practices during power restoration efforts, the management of COVID-19 amidst restoration activities, and ensuring that ongoing lineworker training is prioritised throughout the year.
It is hoped that the Lineworker Roundtable will further equip lineworkers to manage the demanding workload associated with the hurricane season. In addition, CARILEC has spearheaded the development of an Emergency Response Strategy and Action Plan (ERSAP), in an effort to strengthen the capacity for emergency response in the Caribbean’s energy sector.
The ERSAP is being executed in collaboration with the Regional Task Force for Climate-Resilient Energy Supplies, through the CARICOM Secretariat, and funded by GIZ. The project is being executed by the Baastel Consultancy Group, a consultancy firm comprising a team of international and regional experts, possessing extensive experience and expertise in emergency response and disaster Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation management in the Caribbean. A draft ERSAP report will be made available to regional energy sector stakeholders at the end of June 2022.
During the recently concluded Disaster Management Roundtable, members of the CARILEC Disaster Assistance Program (CDAP) reviewed disaster preparedness plans for the upcoming season and shared their challenges and successes over the past year, in the midst of an increasingly multi-hazard environment. The Roundtable was well attended by over 20 member utilities, comprising disaster coordinators, transmission and distribution engineers and OHS officers.
Speaking on the recently concluded Roundtable, CARILEC’s Executive Director and Chair of CDAP elaborated on CARILEC’s mandate within the electric energy and disaster management sectors:
“CARILEC has embarked on a number of disaster and emergency management projects and initiatives over the past year. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and increasing hazards within the Caribbean, have heightened the need for regional and national institutions to prioritize disaster mitigation, as an area of immense importance. To this end, CARILEC is pleased to be a forerunner in this effort, as the electric energy sector is critical to the operations of several other vital sectors such as health, water, telecommunications, and infrastructure, to name a few. We are committed to this effort and will continue to partner with other relevant organisations to achieve the common goal of a sustainable and resilient energy sector.”