PHILIPSBURG--Businesses and households country-wide were gripped by a lengthy power outage on Thursday that was said to have been caused by a problem with one or more generators of utilities company GEBE.
Lights went off throughout St. Maarten around 1:29pm and remained off until late in the afternoon when some districts started to receive power again. GEBE did not specify the cause of the problem in a press release issued late yesterday.
Some businesses that did not have generators were seen guiding customers with flashlights to view products and to secure sales for the day. In Philipsburg and other areas workers stood and sat outside stores, in some cases to beat the heat inside the stores. Some businesses shut their doors earlier than usual when it was clear that the electricity would not return before closing time.
Many persons commented on the length of the outage. Some persons said it was ironic that the country was gripped by an outage the day GEBE had announced its electricity-bill-relief programme.
In its late-evening release GEBE said an "interruption" had caused the entire Dutch St. Maarten to experience a total blackout. The utilities company said that after assessment of the problem, the gradual restoration process had started around 5:45pm and had been ongoing up to late last night. GEBE said full restoration had been estimated around 10:00pm if no further technical difficulties were encountered.
The Managing Board said GEBE engineers had been "working non-stop" at the Cay Bay power plant and substations to "rectify all issues" that had developed due to the outage. The company said a more detailed press release would be issued when a full assessment had been made. GEBE said it regretted the outage.