NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) customers could begin to see savings on their electricity bills at the end of next year into early 2021, according to Works Minister Desmond Bannister.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Mr Bannister who has ministerial responsibility for the utility hailed the new 130-megawatts Wartsila plant at the Clifton Pier Power Station as “the largest infusion of new power we have ever had in this country”. The plant which was brought online by the December 15th deadline is intended to boost the sorely needed generation capacity on New Providence.
“It’s good news for all of our residents. This is the largest infusion of new power we have ever had in this country. We have 132 new megawatts of reliable power with new engines. We expect early in the year to get another 32 megawatts, in 2020, and in 2021 we expect anther 90 megawatts so we will be able to get rid of all rental generation, decommission a lot of these old engines, these relics and we should be able to get reliable generation,” said Mr Bannister.
While generation has been one of the issues plaguing BPL, the company’s transmission and distribution system has also caused problems for the utility. Leading up to the US Thanksgiving weekend BPL experienced what it described as a “total system shutdown”. The cause of the outage it said was as a result of a failure on the transmission network, initiated by a failure on an underground cable between its Big Pond station and its East Hill Street primary substation. The incident came at the worst possible time for the Atlantis resort which was hosting its popular annual pre-season Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, televised on ESPN.
On the T&D issue Mr Bannister said, “BPL is also working on transmission and ddistribution challenges we have in New Providence because we have lots of lines that cause any number problems and that is a challenge they are working on to improve the service to Bahamians. They have started but the reality is that it is such a challenging issue it takes a tremendousamount of time,” said Mr Bannister, adding “You are going tosee some improvement but it will be gradual.
According to a timetable previously outlined by Works Minister Desmond Bannister in Parliament, $48.1 million will be invested come 2021 in 132kV transmission and substation upgrades, which will ensure that “additional capacity reaches the grid efficiently and therefore help eliminate load shedding and reducing blackouts due to substation failures.”
Mr Bannister told Eyewitness News that going forward, BPL customers should come to expect more reliability from the utility, with load shedding a thing of the past.
“We ought to have the kind of power we need so that we don’t have the challenges we have had before. We need to be able to have a summer where load shedding is just an unpleasant memory. That is what BPL is working towards,” said Mr Bannister.