When a crisis unfolded at the Guatapé hydroelectric plant, the experienced and speedy response of the insurance industry was critical, as Juan G. Uribe, managing director at RTS International Loss Adjusters, explains.
What does Guatapé represent for the insurance industry?
Guatapé hydroelectric plant, owned by the utility Empresas Públicas de Medellín (epm), is one of the most important power stations in Colombia due to its reservoir capacity, its potential to generate 560 MW and because its water is also used by two power plants with a significant capacity located downstream.
What happened at Guatapé?
The El Niño phenomenon affected the rainy season and reservoir levels in the country dropped below historic minimums. This posed a great threat to coping with electricity demand and Guatapé was one of the few power stations with sufficient reserves.
On 15 February 2016 a fire burned the 230-kV power cables putting the plant out of service and also impacting the other facilities downstream.
Such was the magnitude of the problem that even the President of the Republic visited the plant twice, only seven days after the fire and later when the first results of the repair measures were already appreciable. The matter had political implications and the President addressed the population through the media to ask for the voluntary saving of energy to avoid any possible rationing.
The power station’s inactivity initially involved a financial loss of $3 million per day for EPM and the most optimistic scenario was a shutdown period of 6.6 months and the most pessimistic 9.6 months.
What role did RTS International Loss Adjusters play in Guatapé?
The role RTS played was crucial to resolve the loss quickly and effectively. Just a few hours after the fire, a multidisciplinary group of experts from RTS International Loss Adjusters began work on the case. In collaboration with epm, RTS began coordinating the professionals involved, allocating tasks and setting objectives.
An essential milestone in the adjusting process was obtaining the new electrical conductors needed to repair the damage to prevent consequential losses. This proved to be no easy task, despite being of fundamental importance to minimize the loss after the possibility of repairing the pre-existing conductors was ruled out.
Thanks to the extensive experience and contacts of RTS International Loss Adjusters in the industrial sector, new cables were located in Mexico in record time, although this involved a major international deployment of resources. The purchase negotiations of the cables were followed by an unprecedented complex logistical process between Mexico and Colombia to transport the 57 enormous electric cable reels weighing over 800 tonnes from one country to the other. A fleet of large aircraft with ample capacity was located and hired for the eight flights between both countries. Urgent transport was then coordinated by road using large trucks protected by important security measures, such as satellite monitoring, helicopter surveillance by the air force and protection by the Colombian army.
Despite their cost, the adopted measures were undoubtedly profitable since they managed to reduce the shutdown period to the above-mentioned most optimistic scenario. The shortening of the shutdown period to only 4.5 months prevented business interruption amounting to over $200 million.
How was the Guatapé case resolved?
The case was resolved successfully and to the satisfaction of all the parties involved since besides considerably mitigating the extent of the loss, the generation and supply of electricity to the population was re-established in record time, thus noticeably decreasing the social impact. As a result of the measures described above, which took place in a minimum length of time after the loss, all the news bulletins in Colombia began with the happy image of the President of Columbia, Juan Manuel Santos, starting up the generation units after thanking the managers, the government of Mexico and all the professionals involved in the successful resolution of the case for their efforts.
What is RTS International Loss Adjusters?
This is a company with over 28 years’ experience, which started out in Spain, but has successfully penetrated the Latin American market with its own offices there. It serves the insurance market, offering loss adjustment services in every industrial and commercial sector. It boasts over 500 professionals, experts in a full range of specialities, who work together as a team to ensure optimum results for any assignment.