PUC’s undersea cable to La Digue damages for fourth time | 24 August 2020
Some residents of La Digue found themselves without power supply early Saturday morning after one of the two undersea cables which supplies electricity to the island developed a fault.
The Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) explained that Dan Goulo, Anse Reunion, L’Union, Belle Vue and Grand Anse lost electricity supply at around 8.30am Saturday.
Consumers however soon regained power at around 11.40am, with some getting electricity supplied from the second undersea cable which lands at La Passe while others are receiving electricity from the standby generators which were installed on La Digue last year.
The undersea cable which has been damaged is the one which provides electricity from Eve Island, Praslin but routes to Round Island before reaching La Digue. It is the fourth time that the cable gets damaged since it was installed in 2006.
“We immediately deployed a team from Praslin and La Digue to identify where the fault was on the cable on Saturday[…] the damage has occurred in the same region which continuously gets affected and this is an area close to Round Island – where the cable leaves Round Island to go to La Digue,” explained the managing director for electricity at PUC, Ravin Sunassee.
According to Mr Sunassee, the damages to the cable are caused by the hostile underwater environment and rough seas in that area.
“The seabed where the cable is laid is extremely rough; it has a lot of corals and the underwater currents are also very strong. Even though PUC continues to put a lot of measures to protect the cable such as concrete blocks or nets, the current is so strong it breaks the protective measures and the cable continues to get ragged resulting in faults,” stated Mr Sunassee.
Following the incident where most of La Digue went without power around the same time last year due to the same undersea cable, the PUC has found it necessary to add 3 kilometres of cable to the undersea cable so that it bypasses the Round Island substation. This expects to be a temporary solution.
“The idea is to abandon this piece of cable at Round Island substation and lay a new piece to join the other part of the cable, so that the cable feeding Dan Goulo area will be supplied from Eve Island directly to Dan Goulo and not from Round Island.”
“The 3 kilometres of cable has already been procured by the utilities company but PUC is waiting for better weather after the southeast trade winds to start the operations. We had scheduled the work for November but unfortunately a fault happened before we could start,” said Mr Sunassee.
The other undersea cable which feeds electricity from Baie Ste Anne station directly to La Digue is the oldest since it was laid in 1984 but does not usually encounter as many problems and faults as the one which goes through the Round Island substation.
PUC’s long term solution to electricity supply issues on La Digue is to install a third cable alongside the two other undersea cables but the company is still in negotiation with overseas loan agencies.