BPL “forced” to reassess engine repair timelines

BPL “forced” to reassess engine repair timelines
Bahamas Power and Light's headquarters.

Specialist’s arrival on site, delayed

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Despite local and international teams working “around the clock” on two downed engines at Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) Blue Hills Power Plant — the primary cause of the 40 megawatt shortfall and incessant load shedding in New Providence, BPL said yesterday that “unforeseen problems” arose with both units, forcing the power company to bring in a specialist that has been delayed.

The net outcome of the unforeseen challenges and the delay on the specialists is a modified timeline for repairs on the engines, which remains unknown.

BPL said it continues to focus its efforts on repairing the two units, which once repaired would make up more than the generation shortfall. BPL noted that it is also keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Dorian, noting that the weather could play a major role in the repair timeline for the outdoor units being worked on.

Dorian strengthened into a Category 1 Hurricane at 11 p.m. Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour. It was expected to move over the Atlantic “well east of the southeastern and central Bahamas” today and tomorrow. The system is expected to strengthen over the next couple of days.

The power company said work on the units has entered the “testing stages after around the clock efforts from the local and international team in preparation for commissioning”.

However, the power provider said new, unforeseen problems arose with both units. BPL said the unforeseen challenges forced it to reassess its timelines to bring the engines back online.

“That is ongoing and will be updated in conjunction with the new team on the ground later today,” the power company said. “Once again, with the delay of the specialist, we don’t yet have any updates on the current repair time. We will share an update once the specialists have completed their assessments tomorrow and we have an update on the repair schedule.”

The specialist was expected on-site today.

“We have suffered significant setbacks in the attempt to bring this unit back online, including identification of an additional mechanical problem during recent repairs,” BPL said on its 21-megawatt unit. “To properly repair the issue, we identified the additional specialist, who was due in town Wednesday evening, but was unsuccessful in getting here today.

“We believe this delay and the potential of interruption due to the impending storm will push back our original timeline for getting this unit back online.

“Again, once the specialist is on site, we will be better able to determine the impact to the timeline.”

The unit was expected to be repaired by tomorrow. The second, 23-megawatt unit, was expected to be repaired by September 6. Yesterday, BPL said that unit developed a vibration problem. Efforts were ongoing to complete a mechanical balance on the unit.

BPL said a specialist working along with the repair team consulted specialists abroad to bring more expertise to bear on the assessment and repair, but the results of the consultation was not yet clear. The power provider has said it is confident that its preparation ahead of the storm have placed it in a good position.

BPL has been load shedding since June across New Providence, much to the frustration of residential and commercial customers, some of whom have reported substantial financial losses.