BPL still facing generation challenges on Bimini after fire

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Less than 24 hours after announcing that electricity had been fully restored on the island of Bimini after fire erupted at the Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) facility on Monday night, the power provider reported on Wednesday that the plant was experiencing new challenges, which led to a loss of generation in several areas on the island.

“BPL is reporting mechanical issues with two of the Caterpillar trailers that had been providing power in Bimini, resulting in further outages on Bimini at this time,” outlined a statement issued yesterday from Quincy Parker, BPL’s Director of Public Relations.

“In addition to the challenges with the trailer units, there was an engine failure as well, which as of 1:30p.m. [yesterday] was in the process of being restarted.

“The engine was expected to be returned to service by 2p.m. The team is working to repair the trailers and restore them to service as swiftly as possible.

“At present, South Bimini, Alice Town and Bimini Bay are impacted. With the restoration of the engine, Alice Town and South Bimini will be returned to service. We are preparing to send another trailer unit to bolster capacity on the island,” the BPL statement concluded.

According to police reports, shortly before 9:00 p.m. on Monday, police were alerted to a fire at BPL’s power plant in North Bimini.

Officers and members of the Bimini Volunteer Firefighters along with volunteers from the Bimini Bay Resort and the community helped to extinguish the fire, which destroyed two main engines at the plant.

The cause of the fire remains unknown, but BPL said in internal investigation has been launched.

Speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday, shortly before the start of the 2019/2020 Budget Debate, Minister of Works, Desmond Bannister, who has responsibility for BPL, explained that BPL’s Station B housed two engines and they were damaged in the fire.

In addition to the engines, Bannister said pumps, wiring and other assets were damaged.

He noted, however, that BPL’s Station 5 has five generators operational and BPL

has stepped up maintenance and brought in additional generators for the holiday.

Bannister said at present, BPL has some 8.5 MW available, which is more than sufficient for demand.

“BPL anticipates it will augment capacity to ensure supply is available for the holiday period,” Bannister said.

Meanwhile, one resident expressed to Eyewitness News Online on Wednesday that the only bank on the island was operating with no electricity, which prevented persons from sending wire transfers to Nassau or the Unites States.

“This is big problem and it is impacting everyone’s business here on the island because we can’t do any transactions. Also, all the dorms at the resort are off and some 400 persons are out of light,” the resident claimed. “I also just learned from one person that she has a shop at the resort and there is no power in that shop.”

Another resident expressed that while BPL did an excellent job with restoring power shortly after the incident on Tuesday, it appeared as if they were “sharing” generation between Alice Town and Bailey Town on Wednesday.

“The BPL office is closed so we don’t know what to do, but at least the bank needs to come up because we need to do our transactions.”