Investigation into BPL fires completed

Bahamas Power and Light Headquarters on Baillou Hill Road.

Report to be revealed this week

 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Authorities have completed their investigation into a series of fires that impacted Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) Clifton Pier Power Station last September, Eyewitness News Online can confirm.

When contacted, Superintendent Walter Evans, officer in charge of Fire Services, confirmed his department has wrapped up their investigation and plan to hold a press conference sometime this week to advise the public.

He did not reveal what investigators have concluded.

A fire erupted at the Clifton Pier Power Station on September 7, causing damage to two critical BPL assets.

There were two subsequent fires at the site on September 9 and September 10.

Those fires, and subsequent loss of the DA-11 and DA-12 generators at Clifton, forced BPL to rely on its Blue Hills Power Station, which uses more expensive diesel fuel.

The power provider has attributed the use of the more expensive fuel and increase global oil prices in the last quarter of 2018 to the higher rates of fuel surcharge on consumers’ bills late last year.

Last October, Fire Services Chief Fire Officer Superintendent Thomas Lightbourne indicated the investigation into the three fires was in the final stages of completion, though there were “some final matters to deal with”.

At the time, investigators had not ruled out arson.

There was a fourth fire on September 15 at a distribution centre at BPL’s Blue Hill power plant, which resulted in parts of New Providence being left without electricity for more than 12 hours.

In the aftermath of that blaze, Evans said neither arson nor “anything suspicious” was suspected.

BPL said preliminary investigations suggested that the electrical fire in the substation was caused by equipment failure.

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) said it would launch its own investigation into the fires at BPL, but noted that it would begin once the regulator received a completed report from authorities.

“We get a report from them initially and then we go back with questions and we do our own investigation to determine whether there was any wrongdoing by BPL,” URCA CEO Stephen Bereaux said while a guest on Guardian Radio talk show “Morning Blend” shortly after the fires at Clifton.

Accidents can happen, so the question is, is this an accident or is this something BPL could have and should have prevented?”